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Man rescued from rain-swollen Los Angeles River

December 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A homeless man who was struck on an island in the middle of the rain-swollen Los Angeles River was safely rescued on Monday.

Search-and-rescue crews say this happens at least once or twice every rainy season, with someone getting caught up in the strong currents at the Los Angeles River.

Authorities responded to a call that someone was stuck in the river near Riverside Drive at about 5 a.m. The man had been on solid ground on the channel, but he became stranded by heavy flooding.

Glendale firefighters were assisted by teams from Los Angeles and Alhambra. Crews stretched catcher devices below bridges crossing the river at Victory Boulevard, Colorado Boulevard and Los Feliz Boulevard, and then launched an inflatable boat shortly after 7 a.m. Firefighters aboard the craft were able to pluck the man to safety minutes later, officials said.

The victim had apparently been living on the island. The man was taken to a nearby hospital to be evaluated.

"They make their homeless encampments here, and then what ends up happening is, they don't know the rains are coming, and before you know it, they're stuck on these islands," said Craig Wobig of L.A. City Urban Search-and-Rescue.

This is when the L.A. River is at its most dangerous. Anyone who falls in must contend with 30 mph currents, freezing temperatures and whatever debris is flowing down river.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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