In a Swift Water rescue executed in the wake of driving rain, firefighters pulled a homeless husband and wife from the raging Los Angeles River Friday morning.
The man was rescued first.
The call was reported at 9:41 a.m. and the man was spotted soon after 10 a.m. A Los Angeles Fire Department diver jumped into the swollen river and the department deployed a helicopter for the search, near the Glendale Boulevard overpass close to Interstate 5.
Footage captured by NewsChopper4 showed him clinging to tree branches inches above the surging water in a section of the river dense with trees and brush between Silverlake and Atwater.
Using a zodiac boat and some rope, the firefighters shuttled the man to the bank of the river.
“I’m just thankful that those people were cruising past," the man told NBC4 as he emerged from the rescue craft.
After rescuers pulled him ashore he told them that his wife was also in the river.
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The rescued pair are a homeless husband and wife who were living in the riverbed before it swelled with Friday morning's rainwater.
A red and white fire department helicopter hovered low over a grove of trees in the middle of the river, while Swift Water rescuers scoured the water, following reports that a woman's voice was heard nearby.
"We had to weigh our options, the flow of the water was increasing, increasing the risk to our rescuers," said Dusty Clark, an eight-year veteran of the LAFD's Swift Water Rescue Team.
It took rescuers nearly two hours to locate the woman and bring her to safety. They loaded her into a boat and took her to the bank of the river just before noon, bringing the long search-and-rescue to a close.
The Swift Water rescue team is an elite group that practices in this part of the LA River, but almost lost one of their own in Friday's rescue.
"Fortunately I was able to position myself up on an underwater stump and wrap my leg around it," said one of the rescuers.
The couple were taken to a hospital in fair condition on Friday afternoon, officials said.