Video: Off-duty Calif. patrol officer rescues hiker trapped in whirlpool

California Highway Patrol Officer Brent Donley used a cord from his backpack and a branch to pull the man to safety

Anthony Galaviz
The Fresno Bee

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. — A 24-year-old Fresno man was saved by an off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer on Saturday when swift currents above Bass Lake swept him into a whirlpool, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies said the man misjudged the fast current when he walked across a stream, and the flow swept him in and held him under.

CHP officer Brent Donley, who is trained in search and rescue, saved the man from drowning by throwing him a cord from his backpack tied around a branch and pulling him to safety.


While hiking at Angel Falls near Bass Lake in Madera County, with his family, off-duty CHP Officer Brent Donley (wearing the ball-cap) was alerted to a victim who was struggling to keep above water, stuck in the cold and fast moving water. Thinking quick, he utilized his Adidas backpack’s para cord style strap, cut it out and tied it together with a small branch to allow the victim something to grab. With the assistance of other hikers, Officer Donley pulled the man to safety and assisted him for until help from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office arrived. Officer Donley’s quick thinking and training in search and rescue, undoubtedly helped to save the man’s life. @californiahighwaypatrol @chp_centraldivision @abc30_actionnews @kmphfox26 @ksee24 @cbs47fresno @univisionfresno @thefresnobee @maderasheriff @adidas @adidas_hiking

Posted by CHP – Fresno on Saturday, May 9, 2020

Donley gave first aid to the man until search and rescue teams arrived. The man’s condition was not known.

The man had been hiking along Willow Creek before making the trek to Angel Falls.

Deputies said the current is flowing at a high rate because of the snow runoff and urged the public to not walk across swift waters.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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