Rescue on the Provo River: a hero’s story

Jul 18, 2022, 6:30 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 10:26 am
water rescue provo river...
Image of a water rescue on the Provo River. (Photo credit: screenshot KSL TV)
(Photo credit: screenshot KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — In the midst of a news day filled with reports of a mass shooting in Indianapolis, court appearances by mass shooting suspects in New York and Florida, and legislative reports of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, there was an inspiring story of heroism that happened Saturday on the Provo River over the weekend.

KSL TV reported that a woman was being dragged down the river by a deflated inner tube and an ill-fitting life vest. Nathan Johnsen’s boat was just launching as she floated by. His youth leader, Mary Anne Douglas, shouted to get his attention.

“It was just a miracle”

Johnsen, 17, jumped in without hesitation and was next to the woman in a few strokes.

“She could not breathe at all when I got to her. For about 30 seconds, she was beneath the water, and I could not get her above water,” Johnsen told KSL TV. The teen struggled against the current and the rocky riverbed.

“I genuinely for a good, solid 30 seconds did not think I would be able to rescue her,” Johnsen said.

They finally reached a part in the river where he could stand. Others in his youth group reached him and helped get the woman to safety.

“I literally thought she could die in front of me, and it could partly be my fault, so that’s what really got me to think that I need to save this lady. So it was just a miracle.”

A teenage hero!

Nathan Johnsen (KSL TV, Kiersten Nunez)

Johnsen youth leader and others are hailing him as a hero.

“Another minute or two, this may have been a different ending,” Douglas said.

“The timing of him getting over there and getting that chin out of the water was probably in the last minute to minute of a half of that window to save her.”

Rescue crews said this is a cautionary tale to all of us to never go alone on the river and to always check that your life jacket fits properly.



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Rescue on the Provo River: a hero’s story