Friends, Visalia nurse, rescue woman after near-drowning

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At Cutler Park, the St. John's River can be deceiving. (KFSN)

At Cutler Park, the St. John's River can be deceiving.

There are slow, calm waters, but near the weir, the water churns, and can sweep someone off their feet with ease.

Jose Espinoza says he and his friends came to Cutler Park Wednesday for a barbeque and to cool off. But he almost lost one of those friends in the water, at the weir.

"I guess she decided she wanted to go over the little fall there and we were down here where it's shallow and we lost sight of her," Espinoza said. "And we came back up to the top and that's when we see her, she was stuck in between the rocks."

Espinoza and friends tried throwing her an extension cord, but that didn't work. She went underwater, lost consciousness, and eventually floated downstream.

That's when Espinoza says one of his friends and a Visalia nurse (who just happened to be at the park) jumped in the water and pulled her to shore.

"He started pumping her chest and I started giving her mouth to mouth and then he brought her back," Espinoza said. "She was blue when we got her out of the water, she was blue."

The woman, who friends say is 34-years-old, was awake and responsive before she was brought to a local hospital.

Espinoza says she wouldn't have survived without the nurse.

Last summer, there were a handful of water rescues at the weir within a weeklong period. That prompted the county to put up a sign, advising visitors the river is closed within 100 feet of the weir.

"Every person that does come out here should be aware of the water's strong and the currents are pretty strong too, so can't be trusted," Espinoza said.

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drowningvisaliawater rescueVisalia
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