Wash. river guide jumps into action to save unconscious rafter

Wash. river guide jumps into action to save unconscious rafter

WHITE SALMON, Wash. – It is common for rafts to float over Husum Falls on the White Salmon River. Guided trips, after all, are popular on the river.

Dramatic rescues like the one that happened Tuesday are much less common.

On Tuesday, a guide was leading a raft over 14-foot Husum Falls. When the raft went over the falls, a patron who wasn’t properly holding a rope went flying over the side.

Once in the water, the man hit his head and got knocked out before floating downstream.

Another guide, Russ Cole, was standing on the bank monitoring the falls and saw the man go in the water. As one of the most experienced guides on the river, he quickly jumped into the water.

“At first I thought he was one of the people who doesn’t respond well, just overwhelmed by what’s going on. After I yelled to him a couple times I could tell he wasn’t turning over,” Cole said.

Cole managed to reach the man and drag him to shore. After the few minutes the dazed rafter came to, although he didn't remember what had happened.

He’s expected to be just fine, in no small part thanks to Cole’s quick thinking.

For his part, Cole thanks his experience.

"It looks like it's happening really fast to other people. This is all slow motion for us," he said.

Cole said after 25 years on the river this was his first time having to dive in and rescue someone in this fashion.