RENO, Nev. >> A Nevada man is safe after helicopter rescuers plucked him from a rock surrounded by swift-moving water above a nearly 50-foot waterfall in California.
California Highway Patrol Officer David White said today that 25-year-old Kalani Tuiono escaped from the frigid, snowmelt-choked Yuba River with minor scratches and scrapes on Saturday, an outcome that amazed rescuers.
Tuiono, who has family in Hawaii, wrote on his Facebook page that the current took him away and into the rapids.
“I was underwater for what felt like minutes and was thrown around like a rag doll,” he wrote. “I washed up onto a rock stomach down and puked immediately.
“I was on the rock for an hour until search and rescue came and saved me via a helicopter.”
Dramatic video shows Tuiono perched on a lone rock surrounded by rushing water, with the waterfall just below. Steep rock frames the river.
White says he was caught by the undertow and swept a mile downstream from Emerald Pools, a picturesque swimming hole known for its colorful water.
Auburn, California-based rescuers maneuvered above the falls, dropped down to him in a rescue basket and carried him to safety.
“My life was saved today thanks to Truckee fire department, Cali fire, and California Highway patrol,” Tuiono said on his Facebook post. “I have never had a more humbling experience.”
Tuiono’s uncle, Kanai Helemano, of Mililani, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser through social media that he was shocked when he learned about the incident Saturday through Tuiono’s Facebook status.
Helemano, 23, said Tuiono has relatives in Hawaii from his mother’s side of the family, but has only visited the islands.
He said he reached out to his nephew but hadn’t heard back by this evening.
“I think it should be a life lesson for those to never take life for granted and always stay positive because life is too short,” Helemano wrote.