Lifeguards rescue Target employee from rushing river

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SAN DIEGO – Lifeguards rescued a Target employee who became stuck in the San Diego River in Mission Valley Thursday morning.

The 22-year-old man, who works at a Target store in the Westfield Mission Valley mall, was walking  along Avenida Del Rio, a street connecting Caminio de la Reina and Fashion Valley Mall, when he was swept into the river around 9:30 a.m., authorities said.

The man clung to a branch to keep from being carried away until emergency crews could rescue him, authorities said.

"They put up an anchor system with an inflatable boat," said Lt. John Sandmeyer, San Diego River Rescue.  "We were able to get to the victim and load him onto the boat and then we pulled him out of the debris area and back to shore."

It took crews about 15 minutes to complete the rescue, she said, adding that the man was not there for very long and he did not have any major injuries.

Avenida Del Rio is a street known to flood after a storm.  Sandmeyer said the young man thought he could make it across the river, but mother nature proved him wrong.

"He lost his footing about midway through and ended up getting swept downstream and into the bushes," said Lt. Sandmeyer.  "He over estimated his ability and the depth of the water and got stuck."

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A strong Pacific storm, which arrived in the region on Tuesday, brought heavy downpours and isolated thunderstorms to coastal and valley areas, according to the National Weather Service.

The rain also flooded several city streets early Thursday, briefly trapping some motorists who attempted to drive through, police said.

In the Midway District, a woman got stuck when she tried to drive through high water under the bridge at Witherby and Hancock Streets.   Rescuers responded to the scene, but the woman was able to get to safety on her own.

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"We just had a number of vehicles stuck and stranded in low lying areas where the water had accumulated," said Lt. Sandmeyer.  "It was an unexpected, wasn't known the rain was going to come down so hard."

Sandmeyer reminds everyone it only takes 6 inches of water to get swept off your feet and not much more for a vehicle.

"It can knock you off your feet and pull you down easily.  Don't try it."

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