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    LB Firefighters Spot & Rescue Man From Treacherous, Rain-Swollen L.A. River Channel

    (January 10, 2005, significantly updated) -- In a coordinated action that stretched for miles along the fiercely-flowing, rain-swollen L.A. river, LB Firefighters applied their specialized swift-water training to rescue a man they spotted while on routine patrol.

    Earlier today, LBFD Public Information Officer Paul Rodriguez gave initial information on this truly amazing story. We augment that description below with details from LB City Hall that are truly incredible.

    In an emailed comment to LB media outlets, LB Fire Chief Dave Ellis said it all by remarking, "I cannot describe fully how dangerous it is when we actually enter the river to affect the rescue."

    By way of background, PIO Rodriguez told us that during storm events, LBFD routinely deploys its swift water rescue teams at points along the L.A. river. On January 10th at about 9:00 a.m., one of the LBFD teams was along the L.A. river north of LB, near Rosecrans Ave...and an observant team member spotted a jacket hanging from a fence. Then they noticed some clothes.

    The team began looking down the river...and spotted a person.

    We reported below the sequence of events, provided by City Hall, described by Lifeguard Captain Wawrzynski.

    [begin text]

    Just before 9:00 AM today while on patrol along the bike path of the L.A River, Swift Water Rescue (SWR)-2 team members Marine Safety Officers (MSOs) Brian Pottenger and Jeff Williams observed a male in his mid 20's attempting to swim in the river just above the Long Beach Blvd. overpass.

    The water in the river was 10-12' deep and flowing at approximately 12-15 mph with light debris.

    SWR-2 immediately notified Fire Dispatch and Beach Operations requesting a SWR response.

    MSO's Pottenger and Williams drove downstream of the victim, exited their vehicle and made several attempts to reach the victim from the river bank with throwbags. The force of the water carried the victim out to the center of the river and out of reach of the throw bags.

    Pottenger and Williams entered their vehicle and continued driving down stream and decided to enter the water to attempt a swimming rescue.

    Williams entered the water, swam out to the victim, made contact and began to tow the victim back to the east river bank.

    Pottenger continued to provide updates of their situation on the radio while driving down stream to set up an extraction point for Williams and the victim.

    Downstream of the Wardlow overpass, Pottenger exited the vehicle, made his way down the river bank and was able to get a throwbag to Williams, pulling him and the victim to the river bank. The force of the water against to Williams and the victim nearly pulled Pottenger into the river.

    SWR-1 team members Marine Safety Sergeants Scott Mitchell and Alan Powder arrived on scene in time to assist the victim and Williams out of the water.

    The victim was conscious and transported to Long Beach Memorial Hospital for treatment.

    In the wake of this harrowing rescue, LBFD Public Information Officer Paul Rodriguez asked us to remind our readers (and urge them to pass the word to their children): Don't ever go into a flood control channel.

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