Couple in Spokane Valley saves woman in river

A couple in Spokane Valley says they were at the right place at the right time after they ran into a situation they've never experienced by the Centennial Trail.

On Sunday night, Spokane Valley firefighters say a 23-year-old woman was floating down the Spokane river when she flipped out of her innertube and held on to branches for dear life.

The couple ended up saving her life.

Mark Wanzenried and his girlfriend Shelby Carnes say they were walking along the Centennial Trail. They stopped at a bench for a quick break when all of a sudden they heard a bloodcurdling scream from a woman. Mark and Shelby say they both sat at the bench for a few seconds, letting it pass because there were kids playing down by the river and they thought it was them at first. "But we kept hearing this scream and it got louder and louder and louder,” said Mark.

Immediately, Mark ran straight toward the river where the screaming was coming from. “She was basically holding on to a couple of twigs,” he said. Mark says he saw a woman, holding on to some branches in the river. He saw that the tube she was on, was already gone and floating away.

The kids who were nearby watching her, had called 9-1-1 but Mark didn't want to wait.  “I decided to go in and jump in and help her out, pull her out. The water wasn't very deep where she was at but still, she could have easily been swept away. I was holding on to the twigs and I was walking in there and I grabbed her hand and then basically held her back to land," said Mark.

By the time Mark helped pull her out, Shelby was there to try and keep the woman calm.  "I helped her sit down, calm her down because she was in the middle of an anxiety attack and a panic attack at the same time. Those aren't fun, so I was telling her to breath and telling her to copy my breathing," said Shelby.

Minutes after, EMS crews arrived to help. Firefighters say the 23-year-old was with her boyfriend and his two teens. She missed the takeout point and flipped out of her tube.

“None of them were wearing life jackets,” said Mark.

"If we weren't there, that girl would have been dead completely so thank God she is alive,” said Shelby.

Fire crews say everyone is OK including the 23-year-old.  Mark and Shelby say the woman thanked them for their help.

Spokane County Sheriff deputies say the water on the river is still dangerous and this is a prime example of why it's so important to wear a life jacket.

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