Man found along Nooksack River with no pants, no shoes and no memory how he got there

Too hot for you? Time to go tubing on the Nooksack River

Summer is the best time to go floating on the tube on the South Fork of Nooksack River, near Acme, Washington.
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Summer is the best time to go floating on the tube on the South Fork of Nooksack River, near Acme, Washington.

A pants-less, shoe-less, sock-less 33-year-old man was rescued Thursday from the bank of the Nooksack River south of Lynden after apparently falling down at least part of a 20-foot embankment near the parking lot for Lynden Precast.

Lynden Fire Department chief Mark Billmire told The Bellingham Herald that the man’s truck was found running and still in gear approximately 100 yards away from where he was found and that the man had no recollection of how he fell or ended up there.

“Right now, we’re kind of scratching our heads on this one,” Billmire told The Herald. “We have a lot of questions and no idea how he got there.”

Lynden fire crews were called for a water rescue at 4:17 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, at 1031 Hampton Road after some tubers floating by on the Nooksack heard the man’s calls and phoned for help.

Billmire said crews found the man along the bank, where he had apparently worked his way down and became stuck below a steep 10-foot drop in the embankment.

Not sure of the extent of the man’s injuries, Billmire said assistance was requested from the Bellingham Fire Department, North Whatcom Fire and Rescue and a Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) team that was training in Nooksack.

Billmire said crews were able to work their way down to the man and determine he had possible head injuries and gaps in his memory but no other major injuries.

Fire crews determined they could set up a technical, rope rescue to get him back up the embankment.

“I can’t say enough about those guys from BORSTAR,” Billmire told The Herald. “We have some equipment, but don’t really have a program from technical rescues or an operation for a high-angle rope rescue. We rely on those Border Patrol guys, and they really help us out.”

Billmire said the man was dry and said he had not entered the river, which is deep and swift as it goes around a bend in the area. The last thing the man reported remembering was helping his girlfriend move, and Billmire said his truck was loaded with items suggesting that was true.

“He just wasn’t able to piece everything together to figure out how he got there,” Billmire said.

Billmire said the man was taken to St. Joseph hospital to be checked out.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.