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Two men rescued from the Green River after raft overturns

Two men were rescued Wednesday after their single person rafts overturned while floating down the Green River in the area of Flaming Geyser State Park in Auburn.

Neither of the two men was injured after their rafts struck a snag of logs and overturned. Both were able to climb onto large logs but were unable to reach the shore. A third man was able to reach the shore safely on his own. None of the three was wearing a personal floatation device or helmet.

King County Fire District 44 (Mountain View), King County sheriffs and King County Medic One responded to the call at approximately 4 p.m. Wednesday. Water rescue personnel waded out to the two men and were able to bring them safely to shore. Both were examined for injuries but neither needed medical attention.

Wednesday’s rescue was the second in the last two days. On June 21, two women were reported missing after the inner tubes they were riding on overturned. Both were found safe.

Two women, age 19 and 20, were knocked off their inner tubes and swept under a log in the river.  They tried to avoid the log but could not because of the fast-moving river, according to a King County Sheriff's Office media release.

One of the women told rescuers she “thought she was going to die” as she was trapped by the tree roots under water.  The other said she was trapped and swallowing water and frantically trying to grab the tree or branches until she finally popped out on the other side to the tree.

The two found one of their inner tubes, held on and eventually made it to shore.

A would-be rescuer of the women was also thrown into the river when his raft hit the same log.  He was able to hold on and eventually make it to shore.  He was not wearing life jacket.

Fire departments in King County know that as the weather improves, the number of people on local rivers will increase dramatically, as will the need for rescues similar to those this week.

Beginning July 1 a new law goes into effect that requires everyone floating on a major river in King County to be wearing some sort of Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD). According to a King County fact sheet on national trends, between 85 and 90 percent of boat related drowning victims were not wearing a PFD. In addition, a recent study shows that at least half of downing victims involved in boating deaths would have survived had they worn a PFD.

The two men rescued Wednesday said they were aware of the ordinance requiring personal flotation devices that takes effect July 1, but they chose to float on their toy rafts anyway.

According to King County Public Health there are on average 23 drowning deaths annually in the county with over half on open bodies of water, including rivers, lakes, and Puget Sound.

This new law is intended to reduce the number of drownings on local rivers this summer. Large snow packs and heavier than normal run-off will keep river levels higher than is typical for the summer months, increasing the danger of floating on them. A fine of up to $86 can be assessed for noncompliance. The law will expire on Oct. 31.


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