Squaw Lake – The Survivor’s Story – part 2

Squaw Lake 1
The campground at Squaw Lake
This is the fifth installment of adventure on the Colorado river if you have not read the previous articles click here.
Andre and Lynn have been rescued and are sharing the circumstances of their survival the next day around the campfire. This is part 2 of their story.
The couples cell phone is almost dead, they have called 911, but are afraid their plight may get lost in bureaucracy, they decided to use what was left of the battery in their cell phone to call a friend in their home town San Diego.
Ralph it’s Andre……..Andre what’s happenin ……shut up Ralph we are in trouble, my phones going to die call 911 we are on the river our jet ski sank we’ve been in the water for………..
Andre……Andre……Ralph slumped into the chair……….what the hell was going on. He checked call display…………. It was Lynn’s phone.

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Ralph and Lynn had been friends forever, high school and the same college, just friends. He met Andre several years before on a motorcycle trip to Quebec, Ralph was touring, an epic journey after graduation from law school, he was fortunate, his adopted parents were wealthy, providing him with many opportunities.
 Ralph always seemed to be searching for his soul in exotic destinations and extreme activities.
This time it was the four corner ride of the US, it’s a well known trek for bikers the first leg is San Diego on the southwest coast to Maine on the northwest coast, the second leg is from the Florida Keys to Seattle.
In Quebec Ralph visited a popular biker hang out, it was crowded that night, all the tables were full, Ralph sat beside another biker (Andre) at the bar, the two young fellows hit it off, enjoying each other’s stories and a couple of strong Canadian beers. At the end of the night they exchanged contact information, each promised to keep in touch.
Years later after Andre’s wife passed he spent a few years traveling, finding his way. Andre had often thought of Ralph and their visit. A trip to San Diego to visit Ralph was just what he needed……………Ralph introduced him to Lynn, he never left.

 Ralph was puzzled at this strange call, he recognized Andre’s voice but why did he hang up……….what was going on?
Ralph called 911 in panic mode, he frantically told the story of his friends in the river, he was passed through various levels of the emergency system, put on hold for what seemed like ages. Finally a voice, a person that knew something.
The person could only confirm they were dealing with the situation, privacy issues. Ralph thanked the person and asked if they would update him on any developments, they would try ……was the vague answer. The call ended, Ralph felt helpless, ……….what could he do, the Colorado river was a day’s drive away?
Sinking jet ski
sinking jet ski
Reliving the ordeal was difficult for Andre, he paused several times to compose himself. Lynn was visibly shaken, the tear streams on her face glistening in the fire light.

When the phone died the night went black, Lynn’s phone had cast a brilliant light of hope. Andre could hear Lynn’s shivering sobs in the dark, he reached out and held her, we will be fine, he whispered, we will be rescued…………. Ralph will see to it.
Andre’s touch and encouraging words soothed Lynn, her sobs faded, only silence filled the dark night.
Andre was tired and cold, hope for them was fading, he started to hum, he wasn’t sure why,………… maybe the cold,………maybe the hopelessness he felt,……… then he sang……….. their song, the first song they had heard when they met, a lifetime ago. The song they sang together often while on a road trip, they sang together again floating on the black cold river.
They sang as many songs as the two could remember, some only the chorus.
Andre and Lynn must have sung their hundredth repeat of ‘Hey Jude’ when a distant sound interrupted,………. they strained to hear………….. A plane?………….. No…………a helicopter?……. A rescue helicopter?
The sound increased,…….. definitely a helicopter, the couple scanned the dim horizon for an image, Lynn spotted a slight glow and then the search light.
rescue helicopter
Rescue helicopter
 She yelled, there it is, they’re coming for us……….Andre.
They waved and screamed like a couple possessed, it was coming straight for them, waving, laughing, screaming, crying ‘help, down here, help, help us please’,………… the light passed by only inches from their position……….. As quickly as it came it was gone.
Andre and Lynn’s screams faded with the sound of the helicopter disappearing up the river.  It was traveling too fast, why was it?, maybe a quick first run, and a slower more thorough search on the return………..yes that was it?
It seemed they had been floating for hours, without a watch and the dead phone, Andre estimated 9 o’clock, they had been in the river since 2.
 The cold was beginning to get to them Lynn shivered uncontrollably, she was cooling to the core, not good.
Andre knew this and pulled her closer, his legs were cramping from the cold, he held Lynn out of the water for as long as he could, it didn’t seem to help much, the air seemed colder now than the water. Everything was cold…..so cold.
Even though they were sitting on the seats of the jet ski their legs dangled into the water to keep from tipping.
He was not sure how much longer they could hang on before their strength was gone and they would slip together silently into the dark.
The sound of the helicopter again, the sound had been muted for an hour or more. It seemed to be heading their way now. They turned as it approached, it seemed too fast again? Lynn and Andre yelled, and waved although not as crazed as before, their energy was depleting.
search light
It passed again, the search light farther away, what was happening?… why was the helicopter not seeing us,….. it was searching…… but too fast? We saw the helicopter pass several more times, and farther away each time, and then it appeared to land to the south for a couple of minutes, then take off and fly south until there was no sound at all.
The helicopter was gone, was it refueling or had it given up the search?
Andre knew they could survive for only a few more hours, Lynn’s shivers had returned, she was becoming lethargic, and weak. Andre was  shaking from the cold, he pulled her tight to his body.
We need to do something, to get warm, to get out of the water. In the dim light of the stars Andre could make out a section of tall course grass, maybe bull rushes. He laid Lynn on the two seats while he waded chest deep through the cold river.
Cholorado Shore line
Dense brush on the shore line
His thought was to break down as much of the grass as he could and pile them to make a bed. He was weak but making headway, the more he worked the more the cold seemed to leave his body.
He stopped to wade back and check on Lynn…..oh no……. she and the seats were gone she must have floated away in the slow river current.
He yelled her name frantically and listened in the dark for a sound,…………..a sound,…….. a faint weak sound of her voice. She seemed to have floated close to where he had piled the bull rushes.
He moved to her sound as fast as his weak body would move. There she was draped over the seats, almost unconscious and so weak.
He pushed her slowly toward the pile of bull rushes, he knew if she slipped into the water he may not have the strength to pull her to safety. He pushed the seats and his Lynn into the bull rushes to keep her from drifting.
star lite sky
He returned to his task, he must make a bed for his Lynn. It seemed to take forever, he was tiring, but finally the bed was done enough, he hoped, to support them.
He turned for Lynn, she was drifting again, he lunged for her grabbing at anything he could.
Andre caught her arm, she slipped off the seat helpless into the cold water. Andre used all his strength to drag her to the pile as the seat drifted into the dark.
He yelled at Lynn  ‘help me’. I can’t,…….’ she moaned in a faint voice’….. ‘Let me go ….save yourself, ……….please Andre.
Her words freaked Andre, he grabbed her and with all the strength he had left he rolled her out of the water onto the grass pile,……….. exhausted,………. he climbed beside her and pulled bull rushes over them.
Andre pulled Lynn as tight to him as he could hoping to warm her, her shivering had stopped, she was limp. Andre spoke to her as she moaned faintly. They were out of the water and although the bull rushes may not warm them maybe they could retain some body warmth.
Andre was so tired he could easily drift off, but he knew they had to stay awake. He kept talking to Lynn, she didn’t answer, a moan was all. Andre tried with all his might to stay awake but he finally drifted away with Lynn.

He dreamed of their life together, their grown children, their trip back to Quebec to meet his family. A French Canadian family with their broken English, they had loved her instantly…. ..as he had done.
 Cell phone in the dark
 A noise woke him,  he rolled out of their grassy bed into the biting cold water, so cold and weak he sank in the black water.
Disoriented………which way was up,….. Andre gave up,………. what was the use,……. no one was coming.
Something grabbed at his clothes he felt himself being pulled,……….the surface……….. air,………. he gasped at the air. Voices? Was he hallucinating? were the voices real ?
Are you OK,  a voice said………. Andre slurred……….. where is Lynn, my Lynn she’s over there, Andre was delirious, flailing about trying to point to Lynn.
It’s OK sir we have your wife, she’s here. A blanket was wrapped around the two, a rescuer held them both. The boat jumped alive and screamed down the river.
It seemed like they were in the rescue boat for hours, Andre had no strength, his vision was blurred, where is Lynn. He strained to see her……….. being held by a rescue angel. Her eyes were closed and her lips so dark.
Lynn…………….. he yelled………..her eyes half opened and then closed………..Andre was happy.
The rescue boat arrived at the Squaw Lake boat launch and Andre and Lynn were whisked away to the ambulance and warmth.
The medics began checking them over, as the ambulance raced to the hospital. Andre and Lynn recovered quickly and were released within hours.
A happy ending,…………… we were all very thankful.
I hope  you have enjoyed this story, it is true for the most part although I needed to fill in some information I was missing.

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Thanks for Visiting
Gord B. 🙂

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