SEATTLE - A Seattle restaurant owner helped rescue a woman who fell in the water near Pier 57 on Monday night, according to Seattle police.
Shota Nakajima owns Adana Seattle, a Japanese restaurant in Capitol Hill. He and his coworkers closed the store early to fish for squid near the Seattle Aquarium.
"I go squidding like two to three times a week and it's kind of my zen moment," he said.
Monday night squidding turned out to be anything but "zen" for the restaurant owner when he heard an unexpected cry coming from the water.
"We were still squidding and in the middle of it, we heard 'help' again," he said. "We just dropped our poles and booked it over there."
The woman was clinging to a pole by the Great Wheel, according to Nakajima. He located a ladder but the tide was low and the bottom of the ladder was feet away from the surface.
"There was about two feet of an empty gap from the bottom of the ladder and the bottom third was just covered in barnacles," he said.
Nakajima got as low as he could and told the woman in the water to hold onto him.
"She was kind of panicking at the moment and her legs were just kicking. I told her you gotta relax," he said. "Her voice was just like getting weaker and her hands were slipping down my arm."
Nakajima's friends called 911 and began gathering ropes from other squidders. It was impossible to pull the woman out of the water and barnacles began cutting into Nakajima's arm. Minutes felt like hours as he tried to figure out what to do next.
"I was feeling completely helpless. I was scared and I can't let her go. In my mind, I was like 'OK. I can't fall in but if I let her go, she's going to sink,'" Nakajima said.
He said Harbor Patrol officers showed up just in time and got them both to safety. The woman, who is in her 20s, experienced a mental crisis, according to Seattle police.
Nakajima is glad everyone, including himself, is OK.
"Imagine being in the water for that long," he said. "If we weren't there, I don't know what would have happened."
© 2017 Cox Media Group.