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Daring river rescue saves life Saturday evening

A man was pulled out of raging Columbia River currents Saturday evening after the Trail fire department was notified someone had been swept away by the current.

Cpt. Jason Milne says the call came in at 7:48 p.m., and a heart-stopping 40 minutes ensued before the man, who remains unidentified, was brought to safety.

"We're still not exactly sure who he is or how and why he ended up in the river," he said. "We dispatched our river rescue boat and river rescue team. We missed him on the initial search, which is a fast one.

"We went all the way down to Rock Island,on the secondary search. The river is so high right now, and all those tree tops stickig out of the water are an obstacle," he said. "We saw the patient hanging onto a log that was wedged into those trees - it's very fortunate that he grabbed hold of it."

He said manouevering the boat to the patient was a dangerous and challenging task, which they eventually managed. 

"He was in approximately 15 feet of water. That river makes a rescue challenging, and that's true now more than ever," he said. "The forces are drastic."

The patient was in the beginning stages of hypothermia, and was semi-conscious," he said. "He was sent to Trail hospital."

Milne said this is a case-in-point for encouraging residents to be cautious around river banks at this time.