Two 15-year-old girls waded out to a sandbar in the Carbon River near Orting on Friday afternoon, enjoying a clear spring day.
But when they went to wade further into the river, currents swept them 100 yards down the river before they rescued themselves on a bank opposite the city, Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.
The girls clambered up the hillside, but when it became too steep, they tried to go back toward the river before getting stranded, Troyer said.
Rescuers from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Orting Valley Fire & Rescue, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue, and Orting police teamed up to get the teens back across the river. They lowered the girls to a boat waiting in the water by using a rope, then pulled the rope across the river.
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According to Troyer:
Once the girls became stuck, they screamed for help, alerting a passer-by on the opposite side of the river, who called 911 about 1:20 p.m.
Rescuers arrived shortly after, with personnel above and below the girls on the hillside, Troyer said, and others downstream with equipment to save people if they fell into the river.
The girls were brought across the river about 4:30 p.m. They sustained cuts and bruises, but were otherwise OK.
“They thought the river was running shallow,” Troyer said. “They’re very, very fortunate in a lot of ways here. If they had fallen off the cliffs, it would have been catastrophic.”
Troyer said the warmer weather will make the rivers especially strong because of the higher snowpack this winter, and that even knee-deep water can sweep you away if rivers are running strongly.