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'Nobody is impervious to this river:' Rescuers warn of Skykomish River hazards

Since April, Walters said his crews have responded to five drownings in Snohomish County. (Photo: KOMO News)

GOLD BAR, Wash. – A 27-year-old kayaker from Monroe is in critical condition after a near-drowning in the Skykomish River on Tuesday.

Friends told KOMO News he was an experienced kayaker and worked at a Monroe sporting goods store.

Rob McKibbin, a kayaker from Index, said he knows of the water hole the kayaker got trapped in.

“That hole at that level, it’s kind of like a pour over, the water falls back on itself, and it’s like a washing machine, it just continues to go,” said McKibbin.

According the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, two other kayakers carried him out of dangerous waters and began CPR efforts.

He was in critical condition on Wednesday, according to a spokesperson with Evergreen hospital.

“The frequency of these events has taken a toll on all of our guys,” said Assistant Fire Chief Ernie Walters, Fire District 26 in Index.

Since April, Walters said his crews have responded to five drownings in Snohomish County.

“Nobody is impervious to this river, it’ll take anybody unfortunately.”

Walters urged those heading into backcountry waters to know what they’re getting themselves into.

“Know the area where you want to swim in or float in and obey all the signs out there, because we put them out there for a reason because it’s for your protection.”

McKibbin, who’s kayaked for twenty years, said while preparation is essential and experience helps, everybody is at risk of the river’s hazards.

“The force of the river is a lot stronger than it always looks – even to the people who are on the river frequently,” said McKibbin.

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