Two teens take rickety raft for joyride on Columbia

Two teens take rickety raft for joyride on Columbia »Play Video
Firefighters push "the raft" the two teens found and took for a joyride down the Columbia River Sunday back into the river.

VANCOUVER, Wash. - Two local teens learned a valuable lesson about safety on the water during this heat wave after firefighters rescued them after they got stuck on the Columbia River on a makeshift raft.

A boater called 911 late in the day Sunday after spotting the 16 year olds floating on a rickety raft they had found at least a mile and a half upstream from downtown Vancouver. The raft can barely stay afloat even with no one on it.

Firefighters said the two teens got hung up on some wood pilings just west of the Interstate Bridge.

They were stuck until a Vancouver fire marine crew pulled them off and dragged the raft to the city's public dock at about 8 p.m.

"They might not have thought they had traveled a couple of miles down the river but again these kids are very, very fortunate," said Capt. Kevin Murray with the Vancouver Fire Department.

"If one of them would have fallen in the river, we would be talking about a different case scenario here more than likely."

Murray also said the teens had no way to control the raft because they didn't have a paddle. "So they're out here at the mercy of the current," he said.

The boys were not wearing the life jackets that were on the rickety raft. Murray said the incident is a good reminder for how deceivingly dangerous the river can be especially on a makeshift vessel like the one the teens used.

"Fortunately, our rescue boat is right here, so we were able to get up there rather quickly," said Jason Hathaway with the Vancouver Fire Department. "With that kind of current, it can tear apart that raft pretty quickly."

Firefighters said they worry more people will be getting into dangerous situations as people head to waterways across the area this week to cool off.