Fishermen credited with saving swimmer from Columbia River in Richland

Swimmer Rescue

RICHLAND, Wash. — Thanks to a group of fishermen, authorities rescued a swimmer Thursday morning who was struggling to stay afloat on the Columbia River.

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office said a Richland man in his 30s started swimming down the river from Leslie Groves Park around 9 a.m. when he got far out into the water, got too cold and started struggling to stay afloat.

According to Sgt. Jason Erickson, someone on a bike path heard the man and called 911 for help. The sheriff’s office and Richland Police responded.

By the time they arrived, the witness had lost sight of the swimmer, but first responders were able to figure out the last direction the swimmer was seen headed.

There was a group of fishermen boating near a dock along the river, and they allowed the officers to hop on the boat to search for the swimmer without hesitation, Erickson said.

An officer quickly spotted the swimmer in the water and, with help from the fishermen, authorities were able to pull him out.

The swimmer was checked out by medics, then transported to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland to potentially be treated for hypothermia.

The sheriff’s office thanked the fishermen, John Stratton, Gary Peasley andChristopher Estep, for helping save the man’s life.

“Without these three guys and their willingness, it probably would’ve been a tragic event,” said Erickson.