RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A couple of Richmonders are thanking God for their lives after a day on the water celebrating Memorial Day turned into a near-death experience Monday afternoon. The incident occurred around the same time a group of people went over Bosher’s Dam, just a few miles upriver.
The pair had been floating down the river on a shared intertube when the tube flipped and the woman became caught on a fallen tree in the water.
“We missed our exit at Reedy Creek, and we just had to keep going, we were not expecting it to be this rough,” Christina said as she explained her and her floating companion Christian’s situation.
Christian said he had been out on the water in rough conditions before, but never in an attached tube with a second person. Once the tube flipped, the couple tried to grab onto a fallen tree branch in the water to keep them from being swept away.
Christina then found herself tangled in the branches.
“The current was just so strong, I had to lift my head up,” Christina said.
Brian Rothell, the paddleboarder who rescued the tubers, said he was out by the river with his friends when he noticed the couple was having trouble.
“The girl started to have a pretty hard time, so I paddled over on my paddleboard and I grabbed her,” Rothell said.
“Oh my God, he saved my life,” Christina said about Rothell. “I thought I was going to drown.”
Richmond emergency response vehicles were photographed at Belle Isle, responding to the incident.
Christina and Christian weren’t the only people who had trouble on the river Monday. Around the same time they were fighting for their lives in the raging river, a group of several people on inflatables just a couple miles upstream took a 12-foot-drop as they went over Bosher’s Dam. According to the Richmond Fire Department, several of those people are confirmed to still be missing.
The James River was recorded at 9-feet around 4 p.m. at the time of both of the incidents.
“The river is 9-feet today, so it is very dangerous,” Rothell said.