Off-duty cop happens upon drowning hiker: 'This could have ended very badly'

Katie Mather
In The Know

An off-duty police officer in California is being hailed a hero after he witnessed a hiker get trapped in a whirlpool and quickly jumped to action.

California Highway Patrol officer Brent Donley happened to be on the same path as a 24-year-old hiker who misjudged the swiftness of Angel Falls while trying to cross it.

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Angel Falls is located around 14 miles from the south entrance of Yosemite National Park. With snow runoff, the water flows at 50 to 80 feet per second.

The hiker was trying to cross the water when the flow overwhelmed him and pulled him under. As he struggled to keep his head above the water, Donley heard the commotion and ran to the water’s edge.

Fortunately for the hiker, Donley was trained in search and rescue and had a rope in his possession, so Donley was able to toss the hiker the other end of the rope and pull him to safety.

Donley then stayed with the hiker and provided first aid until the EMS arrived.

The harrowing scene was caught on video by a bystander and the Madera County Sheriff’s Office shared it on Facebook.

“A 24-year-old Fresno man needs to buy a lottery ticket because today is his lucky day!” the Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook. “We sincerely thank Officer Donley for his quick-thinking and preparedness. This Search and Rescue call could have ended very badly if not for his help.”

The office also advised that should anyone see a drowning hiker that they should not jump into the water to rescue them.

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