Photo via OnScene.TV.
Firefighters from LA and Glendale used a rubber boat to ferry 4 homeless people from an island on the raging LA River to the shore in Atwater Village, authorities said. Photo via OnScene.TV.

The four stranded people rescued early Monday by rubber boat during a rainstorm on an island in the raging Los Angeles River in Atwater Village were homeless campers.

Two men and two women were stuck about a half-mile north of Los Feliz Boulevard after rain increased the river flow, said Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Los Angeles and Glendale firefighters responded at about 2:40 a.m. and began the rescue effort.

A swiftwater rescue team used a rubber boat to retrieve the four adults at about 4:15 a.m., according to Scott. They were taken to a hospital in fair condition, he said.

About 100 firefighters were involved in the operation, including some “strategically placed at pre-planned rescue points along the LA River,” Scott said.

“The LAFD received a 911 call from the stranded victims, and immediately dispatched a ground, boat and air response,” Scott said.

“Due to the thick vegetation, the safest rescue operation was determined to be an LAFD Swift Water Rescue Team rather than a helicopter hoist,” Scott said.

“The specialized team boarded an inflatable boat and strategically (crossed) the river which was flowing up to 35 mph, to the island through bamboo trees, and provided the patients flotation devices and instruction,” Scott said.

The four were secured in the boat and brought to safety, Scott said. They were treated for exposure to the cold and wet environment and taken to a hospital in fair condition.

LAFD helicopters flew up and down the river using infrared cameras to ensure there were no other people trapped in the raging water.

Rainstorms often wind up stranding homeless people who camp on islands in the river, which is normally mostly dry, until storm runoff turns it into a dangerous waterway.

—City News Service


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