Mesa Police Department helicopter responded at about 7:40 p.m. March 2 just north of Sloan Park for a report of a person calling for help in the Salt River bottom. Due to the recent heavy rains, the river is flowing and has substantial water in some areas. This location is the same area were the city of Mesa just held the grand opening of the Rio Salado Pathway, according to a press release.
“A citizen walking on the path called to report hearing a voice calling for help. With the assistance of the citizen, ground officers and the air unit, the victim was located perched on some debris near the north side of the river bottom,” Detective Steve Berry, MPD public information officer, said in the release. “When officers reached the shoreline near him, he said that due to the current he was unable to make it back to shore. The victim indicated that he was weak because of the cold and was having difficulty staying in his location. After assessing the situation, the air crew determined that the victim would be reachable with the aircraft.”
The senior pilot took over flight duties and maneuvered the helicopter to a hover over the victim. The victim was able to hold onto the skid of the helicopter and was lifted to safety and put down on the shoreline where officers and medics assisted, he said.
“Although cold and wet, the victim showed no serious injury. The victim, once identified, was a transient who was living in the river bottom when water was released. He said that he had created a small raft to try and retrieve his belonging from an island in the river when he was swept away by the rushing water. The rescue was recorded on AXON camera by a ground officer,” Detective Berry said in the release.