Crews from Northwest Fire District responded to a swift water rescue in the Rillito River just west of La Canada at 6:35 p.m. Saturday.
Several calls indicated that three children were trapped on a sand island as water was rushing downstream and they were unable to get out.
When crews arrived 5 minutes later, they found a 12-year-old, a 10-year-old, and an 8-year-old trapped by a very fast current of water and floating debris. The kids had indicated they were playing in the wash when there was no water flowing when all of a sudden; a “wall of water” came down and trapped them in the middle of the wash.
A rescue crew of three Technical rescue team members suited up and made entry into the wash performing a shallow water crossing to reach the kids. The team was able to reach the three victims and personal floatation devices (PFD’s) were placed on them. The rescue team was then able to bring all three back to the south bank of the river without injury. The parents of all of the kids were on scene and reunited after a brief evaluation by Northwest Fire paramedics. The rescue was completed 28 minutes after crews arrived at the scene.
Additional crews were standing by as a backup teams as well as downstream spotters in the event any of the victims or the rescuers lost their footing while making their way out of the riverbed.
Northwest Fire reminds everyone that riverbeds during the monsoon season can be deadly. A dry riverbed can become a wall of water without any warning and victims are left helpless to the powerful currents. Never play in or around riverbeds that have running water. Parents need to review safety messages with their children that even dry riverbeds can become flooded in seconds if rains occurred in the area that day.
Never try to cross running water by foot or in a car.