Two water rescues and a motorcycle accident near Fall City made for an eventful evening for Fire District 27 emergency personnel, and surrounding agencies yesterday.
None of the 17 people involved in the water incidents were injured during their adventures, but a motorcyclist who crashed after hitting a patch of gravel sustained a broken shoulder and some broken ribs, said FD 27’s acting Lieutenant Joe Springer.
The people in the water, all recreational tubers, were rescued at different locations and times. The first call, reported as five people stranded in some trees around 5:30 p.m. in the 34900 block of David Powell Rd., turned into an eight-person rescue.
“Just as we got there, three more people got hung up, so we ended up rescuing eight,” said Springer, who was the incident commander on this rescue. “They basically got caught in the trees and popped their tubes, and it’s a pretty swift current there.”
The Fall City department boat and rescue swimmers, along with support from Snoqualmie and Eastside Fire, extracted the six adults and two children unharmed, but cold from being in the water so long.
“It is pretty cold, unseasonably cold for how warm the weather is,” Springer said of the river.
That same spot caused the problem that stranded the next group of tubers, about four hours later. Springer, whose crew was already responding to the motorcycle accident at 308th and Issaquah-Fall City Road, later found out that the group of nine people all had their tubes popped by the same cluster of trees that had stranded the earlier group, but they had all swum out, fighting the current to reach a sand bar across from Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course. There, two of the group swam to the riverbank and went to the golf course clubhouse to call for help, he said.
“And none of them had life jackets,” he added.
In addition to Snoqualmie and Eastside Fire, the Duvall Fire Department also responded to the night rescue, since Fall City was already out on another call.
Springer said it was unusual for the department to have two weeknight rescues on the river, and that the cold water temperatures had not limited the number of people floating the river each weekend.
The section of tube-destroying trees that caused so many problems last night has long been a problem, he added, saying that yesterday’s rescue was the department’s fourth in that spot this season. The department is hoping to get signs installed upstream warning tubers to keep to the right for that bend in the river, “because if people aren’t prepared to paddle away from it, they drop right into it.”