An Olympia man who fell into the icy Skokomish River in Mason County was safe Friday night after a rescue effort that lasted from the afternoon into the evening.
Rescuers said the 23-yearold man was conscious, alert, cold and shivering when they reached him, standing on a rock.
He apparently was with two other people when he slipped down an embankment , about 20 feet in the the water.
Rescuers hoisted him out of the canyon and up to the High Steel Bridge sometime after 6:30 p.m., well after dark. He had fallen into the water about 2 p.m.
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He was checked for hypothermia after the rescue and was in good condition, according to the Mason County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office would not release his name Friday night.
Dean Byrd of the Sheriff’s Office said the man had been hiking in closed area that belongs to the Forest Service. He will be fined for entering the area, and the U.S. Forest Service might attempt to recover money from him to cover the cost of the rescue operations, Byrd said.
Tacoma Mountain Rescue had been set to arrive on the scene around 4 p.m.
The search was conducted with urgency because of the growing darkness and the fact that the man was wet and could have succumbed to hypothermia , according the Sheriff’s Office.
The man could be seen, in images from a television news station helicopter, dancing or running in place on a rock, presumably to keep warm.
The man was 400 feet under the bridge, about 14 miles northwest of Shelton, according to KING-5. Also according to KING: The Olympic Mountain Rescue squad gathered at the top of the bridge to work out a game plan. About 30 minutes later, thick fog rolled into the river valley, obscuring the area. The area is the same location where a Naval Air Station Whidbey Island helicopter crew rescued a 15-year-old girl who had fallen into the river canyon last August.
For updates on the story today, see www.theolympian .com.