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Storm Forces Multiple Rescue Attempts In Fast-Flowing LA River

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The strong storm that hit the Southland Tuesday flooded the Los Angeles River and forced multiple rescue attempts between downtown L.A. north to Sylmar. At least three empty vehicles were found floating down the fast-moving river.

"Our swift water rescue team has been bouncing from call to call," LAFD Capt. Erik Scott told CBSLA.

At around 5:40 a.m., L.A. Fire Department crews responded to a rollover in the 2600 block of East Washington Boulevard in downtown L.A. to find a crashed car against a concrete pylon in the river.

Crews prepared for a rescue effort, but the car was empty and no victim was found.

Crews then rushed to Boyle Heights, were a man was refusing to get out of the river, and firefighters had to ensure the man was safe, Scott said.

Later, a second car was discovered floating downstream. It also ended up next to the same concrete pylon as the first car under the Washington Boulevard bridge.

Later in the morning, a third car was then discovered floating downstream. It floated outside the L.A. city limits. At around 10:15 a.m., Sky2 captured footage of the car floating past the Gage Avenue Bridge in Bell Gardens.

"We couldn't get enough eyes to determine if anyone was inside those vehicles or not," Scott said. "It did not appear as if anyone was in there, but we could not conclusively make that determination."

Meanwhile, at around 7:50 a.m., firefighters responded to a 911 call from a 26-year-old man who was swept into a channel of the river in the 12900 block of North Dronfield Avenue.

The victim was able to maintain cell phone contact with emergency dispatchers. The victim could not immediately be located, so firefighters honked the horn of their engine. The victim heard it, and directed them to a maintenance hole in the street.

Firefighters rescued the man through the maintenance hole. He was in fair condition and was being treated for mild hypothermia and minor trauma.

Firefighters also mobilized to rescue a person from the San Gabriel River in Long Beach.

Southern California riverbeds are usually dry and are often be the site of homeless encampments. Firefighters are often called to conduct swift-water rescues when storms bring heavy rainfall, so Long Beach Fire had one very simple message on a day like Tuesday.

"Please avoid the riverbeds," a tweet said.



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