ATWATER VILLAGE (CBSLA) – A homeless man and woman had to be rescued by firefighters after heavy rain turned the normally calm Los Angeles River in Atwater Village into rushing rapids, while a Good Samaritan who tried to reach the two was himself swept away.
At around 9:30 a.m., L.A. Fire Department crews responded to a report of 33-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman trapped on an island in the L.A. River in the 2900 block of North Acresite Street. The area is known for homeless encampments.
“We did have two adults who were trapped with fast-moving water around them,” LAFD Capt. Erik Scott told CBS2.
The water was three feet deep and moving at 7 miles per hour, the fire department said.
Jeff Johnson, a man his 40s, happened to be jogging by when heard the stranded victims’ cries for help and jumped into the water to save them, but got swept away.
“I was jogging by on a bike path, there were two people, a couple, in the bushes, in the middle, yelling for help,” Johnson told CBS2. “Immediately, I jumped in the river, got my leg all bandaged up and everything trying to save them.”
Responding firefighters were eventually able to use an inflatable boat to reach the two stranded victims and bring them to safety.
“We did ultimately have our firefighters respond by the ground, air and boat, and we did utilize an inflatable boat to perform a rescue of those trapped individuals,” Scott said.
Johnson was able to make it to safety on his own.
The stranded couple were treated at the scene for hypothermia and taken to a local hospital with minor injuries. Johnson suffered a minor leg injury, but declined to be transported to the hospital.