SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST, Cali. (CNN) – People were able to make a dramatic water rescue in California’s Sierra National Forest.
Christina Donley filmed the dramatic water rescue by her husband, Brent Donley, and other rescuers.
A day of hiking through Willow Creek Trail within the Sierra National Forest quickly turned into an intense water rescue for Donley, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer.
“A lady approached me and said, ‘Hey, do you have a rope?’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t have a rope.’ And she explained to me there was somebody in the water that was about to go down the waterfall,” Brent Donley said.
The scene became increasingly serious as time began to pass.
“I could see he was stuck as she had said. I walked over to where everybody was standing and there was a bunch of people there and they were trying to figure out what to do. And how to get him out of the water,” Brent said.
Donley had to act fast. Without rope, Donley used his backpack.
“It’s like a parachord-style drawstring. I had a knife. I always carry a knife so I cut the drawstring out of it and we tied two pieces together. I had my son-in-law grab one side and I grabbed the other and we stretched it out just to make sure that it was strong enough to do what we were about to do.”
What he and a group of about five others were about to do was rescue this man from the frigid waters of Angel Falls.
In the midst of the rescue, the man in the water explained to Donley he couldn’t feel his arms and legs any longer.
“I wasn’t panicked at all. I just was trying to be quick about it because I didn’t know how much more time he had in the water,” Donley said.
From the time the call to 9-1-1 was placed around noon to the time the group completed the rescue, the entire event lasted about 10 minutes.
Madera County Sheriff’s Office said that’s long enough to be in the cold waters.
As visitors venture out to the Sierra National Forest earlier than normal this season, deputies warn of the dangers water crossings can have.
“As far as these trails and water crossings, that’s something we want people to be extra cautious of. Be mindful that you’re out here earlier than you normally would be during the year and that the water is deeper and swifter than the way it appears,” Madera County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sara Jackson said.
The Madera County Sheriff’s Office said last year 90 percent of its water rescues were at Angel Falls.
Authorities recommend people recreate responsibly and avoid swimming in rivers and creeks while visiting the Sierra National Forest.