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Warm weather brings Green River rescue

Guardian One plucked five rafters from the Green River about 4:30 a.m. June 3. None were the worse for wear, although they easily could have drowned in the cold, fast moving, and exceedingly dangerous river.

All those rescued were in their early 20s. Four were men and one was a woman.

The ordeal began earlier in the day when six people decided to float down the Green River on air mattresses. They started out near Flaming Geyser State Park about 3 p.m.

Eventually the group got hung up on a log jam. Five managed to make it to the south shore and one got to the north shore where he hiked through brush, eventually making it to the Green Valley Road. He got a ride to his car parked at a boat launch near the Auburn-Black Diamond Road, and decided to sleep in his car for the night.

Since the remaining five were on the south shore and had nowhere to hike, they hunkered down, cold and wet.

Meanwhile, the mother of one of the rafters became concerned when her son didn’t came home, so she drove to the Flaming Geyser about 1 a.m. and found her son’s car. She called the Sheriff’s Office.

Guardian One was called out and found the five about 4:20 a.m. and was able to land and shuttle them back to the park. A deputy found the other still sleeping in his car.

Lessons to be learned, according to the King County Sheriff’s Department:

• Western Washington rivers are very cold and very fast this time of year. Therefore very dangerous.

• There are log jams on the rivers formed by high water over the winter. Floaters can’t avoid them and if the rushing river doesn’t suck them under the log jam where drowning is inevitable, the raft will flip and rafters will end up in the cold water, where drowning is a very real possibility.

• Those intent on “floating the river” should be experienced, know what they are doing, and have the right equipment.

• Air mattresses are not the right equipment for floating rivers in Western Washington.

• Always wear a life jacket when on the river or any body of water outside a designated swimming area. These six did not.

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