NEVADA CITY, Calif. (CNN/WSVN) — A dramatic helicopter rescue on California’s Yuba River was caught on camera.
Kalani Tuiono, 25, was swept down the river while going for a swim.
“I thought I could swim across what appeared to be a calmer part of the river,” he recalled. “The feeling the current had on me was like the start of a roller coaster. I’m 6’4″, and I’ve never felt so small in my life.”
As the fast-moving current carried him down-river, Tuiono managed grab onto a rock not far from a 40-foot waterfall.
“I honestly don’t know how I made it on that rock, but I think if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be talking to you right now,” he told reporters.
California Highway Patrol officers and a fire paramedic had to lower a basket from a helicopter and lift Tuiono to safety.
“He’s a very lucky individual to have survived,” said CHP Flight Officer Matt Calcutt.
Tuiono’s girlfriend was stranded in the same area, and was rescued by another helicopter not long after. He says he’s grateful for the chopper team that saved him.
“I really will be forever appreciative. My appreciation is through the sky right now,” he said.
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