An off-duty police officer rescued a drowning hiker using a rope and stick this weekend after he became trapped in a whirlpool in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.
Video of the incident, posted by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, showed the 24-year-old Fresno man struggling to grab the line in swift-moving water before he is eventually pulled to safety.
In a Facebook post, the sheriff’s office said the water, overwhelmed with snow runoff, was flowing at 50 to 80 cubic feet per second.
“That’s about like 50-80 basketballs full of water every second,” the office said.
The incident occurred at Angel Falls in Sierra National Forest, between Fresno and Yosemite National Park, at noon on Saturday, authorities said.
The hiker, who had been walking along a creek, misjudged how fast the water was moving when he decided to cross, the sheriff’s office said. He was swept into a whirlpool and held under before an officer with the California Highway Patrol rescued him.
The officer, Brent Donley, happened to be hiking in the area and was trained in search and rescue techniques, the sheriff’s office said.
“This Search and Rescue call could have ended very badly if not for his help,” the sheriff’s office said. “Please — if you are planning on visiting the mountains — do not attempt to cross swift water and make safety part of your plan.”