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Caught on top of a waterfall: CHP rescues man on a rock before a 40-foot drop

CHP helicopter plucks man from South Yuba River

A CHP helicopter rescues Kalani Tuiono of Reno from atop a waterfall on the South Yuba River on Saturday.
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A CHP helicopter rescues Kalani Tuiono of Reno from atop a waterfall on the South Yuba River on Saturday.

Emerald Pools may be known for its sweeping views and natural beauty. But a rescue on Saturday showed the dangers of the idyllic spot on the south fork of the Yuba River near Nevada City.

The California Highway Patrol used a helicopter to save a man standing on a rock near the top of a waterfall. Kalani Tuiono, of Reno, had been swept downriver from Emerald Pools before grabbing onto a lone rock in the middle of the river less than 10 feet away from a 40 to 50 foot waterfall, the CHP said Sunday.

Officers and a fire paramedic located Tuiono, 25, and lowered a basket from a helicopter for his rescue.

Later, CHP personnel also rescued Tuiono’s girlfriend, who had gotten stranded on a ledge in the same area. She had been searching for her boyfriend and was finally reunited after she was lifted from the river by another helicopter hoist, according to a CHP news release.

The California Department of Parks and Recreation has been recommending that people avoid that part of the Yuba River where water is flowing faster than usual due to snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada.

Those rescues were part of a busy day for the CHP helicopter rescue personnel, who also responded to a call about a 68-year-old man who fell while climbing Donner Summit earlier that day.

The Davis man, who was not identified, had fallen 50 feet and was rescued by a helicopter hoist, then flown to Renown Medical Center in Reno for medical attention. He suffered “very serious” multisystem trauma, according to CHP, but no further details were available on his condition.

In another incident, early Saturday morning, 20-year-old Padraig Coleman of Midlothian, Va., had fallen ill while camping and hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail. He activated his SPOT device, an emergency GPS locator, the CHP said.

Officers flew to his location and were able to find a landing zone a mile away from the man’s campsite in Alpine County. They met him and a friend half a mile away from the helicopter, hiked back to the landing zone and transported him to an ambulance at South Lake Tahoe Airport.

His condition was not available.

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