‘Incredible save’: Crews rescue man thrown from boat on Snohomish River

MONROE, Wash. — First responders in Monroe had their hands full on Tuesday with two water rescues, and one was described by firefighters as an “incredible save.”

At 6:34 p.m., Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue crews were sent to a report of a man in a small boat heading down the furious Skykomish River near 187th Avenue Southeast and 175th Place Southeast.

As he went down the river, the man was able to call 911 and remain on the line with dispatchers to keep them updated on his location.

Given the darkness, raging river conditions and limited access, it was too dangerous for crews to launch a boat.

Instead, rescuers went downriver to the State Route 522 overpass over the Snohomish River, hoping the man would be able to grab a rope. The Washington State Patrol closed the highway to allow firefighters to work.

Crews with Snohomish Fire District 4 were also staged farther downriver.

Next, a drone was launched during a downpour to view the boat’s location. The drone showed that the man was in a small aluminum boat with no oars.

By that time, the man had passed the confluence of the Snoqualmie and Skykomish rivers and was in the Snohomish River heading toward SR 522.

Crews then got into position at the base of SR 522 overpass and helped guide firefighters above the river as to where to throw the rope. At the same time, emergency dispatchers were telling the man in the boat what to do when he reached the overpass.

When a firefighter tossed the rope, it landed in the boat, but when the man grabbed it, he stood up. This caused the boat to turn 180 degrees with the transom of the boat facing the raging current.

“The power of the river ripped the boat from under the man, tossing him out of the boat and into the river filled with large tree debris and heavy currents,” SRFR wrote in a Facebook post.

The man started to swim to shore just west of SR 522, where he was able to cling to a tree in the river.

At 7:40 p.m., crews slashed their way through thick blackberry bushes and the man was pulled to safety.

The shoeless man was able to walk to a nearby medic unit and was taken to a hospital.

“From the first reported location to the spot firefighters rescued him is approximately 4 miles. The man was in the over an hour in the river. 23 members from SRFR, SCFD53, SCFD4, and the Sheriff’s office were on scene,” SRFR said.

Earlier in the day at 12:38 p.m., crews with Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue were dispatched to Lewis Street Park for reports of four people and dog that became trapped in Al Borlin Park after heavy rain caused the Skykomish River and Woods Creek to spill over their banks and surrounded them.

SRFR sent a boat and swift water swimmers in kayaks to reach those who were trapped.

After 30 minutes, crews reached the four people and the dog and took them to higher ground where they were warmed up and checked out by medics.