King County Deputy James Mitchell said he was just heading home from his shift when he spotted a young man alongside the southbound lanes of the Maple Valley Highway waving his jacket up and down, legs bloodied.
The deputy turned around and asked the man what was wrong. Mitchell said there was a language barrier, but he was able to glean the man and his cousin were rafting down the Cedar River when they overturned and his cousin was still missing.
As medics and divers arrived on the scene, the deputy ran through the bushes and jumped a fence to search for the man's cousin. But a short time later, another person called police to let them know they had found the cousin, who was wearing a life vest and had managed to float to shore down river but couldn't get out and had spent several minutes in the water. Both were taken to a local hospital for treatment of hypothermia but were expected to be OK.
Deputies say it appears the men, aged 23 and 20, had put the raft in the river near the golf course but it got dark earlier then they anticipated and then they flipped over. Mitchell said the first victim managed to swim to shore, climb a 20-30 foot embankment, scale a 10 foot fence, then had to run through 20 yards of thick, thorny bushes before reaching the highway. He had several scratches on his legs from the thorns, but the wounds were superficial, Mitchell said.
"It was a happy ending tonight, but just goes to show you can't never be to careful, even on a nice day," Mitchell said.