Fresno County Sheriff's helicopter crew rescue teen from river

FRESNO COUNTY (KFSN) -- A Fresno County Sheriff's helicopter crew rescued a teenage girl from the San Joaquin River on Monday.

Nina Alvarado, 16, said the water looked calm when she jumped in, "It seemed fine, it didn't seem too dangerous," she added.

Fifteen minutes later, it was a much different story. Nina lost her raft, the current had her pinned against a tree and she was separated from her family.

"I had my arm wrapped around this log," she said, "I knew that if I were to let go that I would have been sucked under."

Her family managed to get out and run two miles to get a phone to call for help. Within minutes, Eagle One was in the air and flying into rescue Nina. Pilots Mike Sill and Johnny Reyes were both in the helicopter.

"Time was of the essence," Sill added, "it was very evident with the type of water she was in, the type of position she was in."

At first, Sill tried to hover close to Nina so Reyes could pull her out. It didn't work so they landed and set up a rescue collar to put around her body.

"Put it around your body-- put it all the way around you," Reyes could be heard saying in the video recorded during the rescue.

Reyes said, "she put it under one arm and she kept waving me off, and she was telling me no."

Nina said her leg was stuck and she was afraid to lose it. By this time, she said 40 minutes had gone by. She wasn't sure how much longer she could keep her head above water so she said a prayer and let go.

Nina said, "it was a good feeling because as soon as I let go and held on to the rope, they started pulling me up."

After Nina was on the ground, Reyes said, "Mike and I shared a fist bump at the end and it was like, yeah this was a good one."

Nina said she was thankful, "I was saved, I was blessed."

She was tired and cold but happy to be alive.

Nina said she was pinned against a dead tree in the river - the same tree that has trapped several people over the years. She's hoping her story will help get it removed.
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