Three people—two males and a female—and a dog were rescued by the Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) Tuesday morning without injury after being caught in the rapidly rising waters of the LA River.
According to LBFD spokesman Jake Heflin, officials were dispatched to the scene on the river, just south of Willow, at 6:50AM Tuesday morning.
There they discovered a 20-year-old homeless female, a 55-year-old male, and a 60-year-old male trapped on a jetty just right of center in the river.
“So they were up against the embankment on the pipeline bridge, and the embankment, when it’s subjected to heavy flowing water, it creates what they call a jetty,” said Heflin. “And it becomes a safe haven for people to basically avoid the rapidly moving water. So they were kind of glued up against there, waiting.”
Officials arrived to the scene at 6:57AM and went to work creating a “hoist system,” composed of ropes and a harness, to lift the individuals from their spot along the river, called a technical rope rescue.
The first victim was rescued at 7:53AM, the second at 8:02AM, and the third at 8:12AM, Heflin said.
The dog, who had been taken in by the homeless woman, had climbed out of the river on his own and sustained a few cuts, Heflin said. He was taken in by Long Beach Animal Control.
The 60-year-old male had reportedly begun fishing early Tuesday morning in the company of his 55-year-old friend. They fished there often, and were acquainted with the homeless woman who lived there, according to Heflin.
Heflin said the LA River, as a flood channel, is inherently dangerous in times of rain.
“And this is the first rain, the first heavy, kind of significant rain, so there was a lot of debris that had been built up, so that’s inherently dangerous,” Heflin said. “It was one of those things where we try to minimize the risk to our firefighters and obviously provide for the patients first and foremost, and we were able to establish patient contact with the ropes, and we were able to lift them up and haul them out with a harness.”