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Rafters upended in Nooksack River west of Everson

A bald eagle along the Nooksack River in Whatcom County in this 2013 file photo.
A bald eagle along the Nooksack River in Whatcom County in this 2013 file photo. The Bellingham Herald file

Three tourists narrowly escaped serious injury Tuesday evening when they were caught in a snag on a treacherous part of the Nooksack River west of Everson.

Firefighters from Whatcom County Fire District 1 helped the trio climb to safety through thick brush along the south bank of the river near Nolte Road, where they scrambled and phoned for help after the snag knocked them into the turbulent waters. None were injured, said District 1 Capt. Greg Macy.

“It’s a pretty bad spot,” Macy said. “I’d recommend that people stay out of it.”

The current just kept taking them into the snag.

Capt. Greg Macy, Whatcom County Fire District 1

Macy said the mishap occurred about 6:25 p.m. as two men and a woman, all from outside Washington state, were headed downriver from the Everson Road bridge in a rubber raft. They were swept into a notorious snag, near the site where three people were rescued in a daring helicopter operation on July 24.

“He grabbed a limb. The raft shot out and she went underwater,” Macy said. She was not a strong swimmer, he added.

Macy said one of the woman’s companions reached into the water to activate the gas cartridge that inflated her life vest, likely saving her life.

“The current just kept taking them into the snag,” Macy said.

Eventually, the trio made their way to shore and and called 911 because they were disoriented and had lost their car keys, wallets and personal belongings.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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