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Deputies: Man who helped save struggling swimmer feared drowned

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CONCRETE, Wash. — A man who helped rescue a stranger struggling in a river Saturday evening is missing and feared drowned, the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office says.

Deputies received calls around 4 p.m. Saturday about a missing 44-year-old Palouse man in the Skagit River near Cape Horn Development Park.

According to witnesses, seven adults were wading in shallow water when a man swam deeper into the river to retrieve a football. The man struggled against the current, and several other members of the group went out to rescue him, as well as a Good Samaritan who was nearby.

“It was such a wild moment, what I recall seeing is people out there trying to help the one fellow who threw the football in the first place,” said Fred Freeman, who lives nearby.

While attempting a rescue, some of the people helping the original man, began to struggle as well, deputies said.

“I knew I couldn’t go out there and survive, so all the other people were out there anyway and I just waited here hoping I could help,” added Freeman.

After some time a woman and two men, including the one originally in distress, made it back to shore. However, the Good Samaritan who set out to help was missing in the water and unaccounted for, deputies said.

The sheriff’s office says the area of the river where this happened, has different currents moving through which makes it very dangerous and can trap any good swimmer.

“The concern is the river is always colder and that area is about a 30 to 50 foot hole where there’s an eddy that creates a big swirl,” said Chief Chad Clark, with the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff's deputies and search and rescue personnel were called to the river. Efforts were made to locate the missing swimmer Saturday late into the night as well as most of Sunday, but he was not found. The water is swift, deputies said, and has a poor visibility.

The man is still missing and feared drowned. His name has not yet been released.

Search and recovery efforts concluded on Monday afternoon.