Authorities rescued three people from a stretch of the rain-swollen Los Angeles River in Atwater Village on Thursday morning, including one who also became stranded while helping two others, officials said.
The incident began in the 2900 block of North Acresite Street just after 9:30 a.m. when the river water abruptly rose, trapping a 33-year-old man and a 37-year-old women, according to a Los Angeles Fire Department alert.
Jeff Johnson, who was jogging in the area at the time, heard their screams for help and tried to rescue the pair himself, jumping into the river. But he quickly got caught up in the fast-moving water.
“I didn’t think the current was that strong," Johnson told KTLA. "It just swept me away."
Still, he said he managed to get out of the water and call for help.
By the time an LAFD swiftwater team arrived at the scene, the water was approximately 3 feet deep, according to the alert.
Crews faced challenging weather conditions during the incident, as heavy rain was drenching the area amid a storm pounding Southern California.
Before the rescue effort, One of the men appeared to be clinging to a tree on a small island in the middle of the river as water rushed by, Sky5 video showed.
Around 10 a.m., the team deployed the raft to the island, with a line attached to tag lines, according to aerial footage the Fire Department. The patients were retrieved in the motorless boat and pulled to safety.
All three people were evaluated at the scene by paramedics.
The man and woman who were initially stranded each showed symptoms of hypothermia and had other minor injuries, according to the alert. Both were taken to local hospitals.
The man who tried to assist the others declined transport.
“If you help people, you pay it forward,” Johnson explained of his decision to attempt the rescue himself. “You never know when someone else could use that help.”
Despite the good intentions, LAFD Capt. Erik Scott cautioned people against trying to rescue people during swiftwater situations.
“They become actual patients themselves, and then we have additional patients to worry about, so that’s one to think about," Scott said.
He added, “It only takes six inches of water to sweep you off your feet.”