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Woman, dogs rescued from Nooksack River in Ferndale

FERNDALE — A woman jumped into the Nooksack River in Ferndale to rescue one of her dogs Wednesday evening, June 25, but ended up needing to be rescued herself.

The woman, aged about 40, had been tossing a ball into the river for her two dogs at the boat launch in Hovander Homestead Park.

One of the dogs — "medium-sized," though firefighters weren't sure of the breed — had trouble swimming back to the shore around 5:20 p.m., and started to get swept up in the current, said Whatcom Fire District 7 Assistant Chief Larry Hoffman. So the woman jumped in to help. But she got swept in too.

She ended up about 100 yards downstream from the boat launch, in chest-deep water beside a muddy, sandy 15-foot-tall embankment she couldn't clamber out of. The other dog had jumped in the river, too, and followed them. Both dogs managed to swim ashore and climb part of the way up the same slippery embankment.

Firefighters threw the woman a life vest but she insisted the dogs get rescued first, Hoffman said. The dogs were blocking the way out anyway, so firefighters obliged. The woman spent about 45 minutes in the river before firefighters could harness her and pull her out.

She didn't show any obvious signs of hypothermia, Hoffman said, but she was taken to St. Joseph hospital as a precaution.