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Woman, boy rescued from island in Kootenai River

by Western News
| October 1, 2009 12:00 AM

Trained swift water technicians safely rescued a 10-year-old boy and his 30-year-old aunt who were trapped on a rocky island at the mouth of Kootenai Falls early Saturday evening, according to rescuers.

The out-of-towners had easily crossed one island and then waded and swam through the Kootenai River to the next island, according to Terry Crooks of David Thompson Search and Rescue.

“Then they realized they were in trouble,” Crooks said. “They tried to make it back and couldn’t.”

A member of their party called for help at 4:07 p.m. when they decided it was unsafe to get back to shore unassisted.

DTSAR rescuers arrived and secured a series of ropes and anchors on both sides of the river. While tethered to the ropes, two men swam across the current to the island. The victims were fitted with life vests, helmets and harnesses and then attached to their rescuers for the trip back to shore.

Crooks was pleased that no one was hurt and that the reporting party was able to persuade the woman and her nephew not to cross the river unassisted, despite the embarrassment of calling a rescue team.

“They put themselves in a fatal situation,” Crooks said. “If they hadn’t have called, the water could have snatched them off the rocks, and it could have turned it into a three-week recovery.”

Though the river may be shallow, he pointed out that strong current, slippery rocks and large holes make the river treacherous.

“People don’t realize how slippery those rocks are,” Crooks said. “Tiptoe across there –one slip and it’s your life. It’s a beautiful place but a lot of people die there.”