Cousins rescue man trapped by fallen tree in Clackamas River

Cousins rescue man trapped by fallen tree in Clackamas River »Play Video
Eric Rauch (left) and his cousin Lincoln Keesecker (center) saved a man who was trapped in the river by a fallen tree.

NEAR CARVER, Ore. – Two cousins used a knife and a beer bottle to save a man's life after they saw him trapped on a fallen tree in the Clackamas River on Saturday.

The tree is lying across the river near where Highway 224 meets Southeast Tong Road. Neighbors said it fell during the winter.

“We thought we were holding a dead body,” said 18-year-old Lincoln Keesecker. “That’s the thought that went through my head.”

Keesecker and his cousin, 19-year-old Eric Rauch, were at their grandfather’s wake along the river when they saw a man get caught on the tree with a rope around his neck and arm.

“It made this tight knot,” said Keesecker.

Another man who was nearby tossed the pair a knife to cut the trapped man free. Rauch cut the man loose and tossed the knife back on the river bank as they pulled him to safety. They said they started chest compressions and man began to cough up water.

“That’s when we realized he had the rope tied around his neck and arm,” said Rauch. “That dude, his eyes were rolled back, his tongue was out, his face was purple.”

“We were just screaming for anybody to find the knife he had thrown aside,” Keesecker said. “Then, anything sharp to cut this rope. Some guy finds a bottle, picks it up, smashes it on a rock, flies over and hands it to Eric.”

The cousins used the bottle to slowly cut the rope. That's when paramedics arrived and rushed the man to a hospital.

The man, later identified as Lonnie Hamon, has temporary paralysis in his left arm. He returned to the river on Sunday to meet the cousins and thank them.

The sheriff’s office is working with the State Marine Board to get heavy equipment to the scene so crews can remove the tree.