15-year-old Linden Lovett recounts saving her younger brother after his fall into South Yuba River | TheUnion.com

15-year-old Linden Lovett recounts saving her younger brother after his fall into South Yuba River

Zephyr Lovett had been jumping from a rock into the South Yuba River all day.

His sister, 15-year-old Linden Lovett, and a friend watched Zephyr as he jumped. They'd checked the river after arriving and knew where the 13 year old could safely hit the water.

Then they saw him jump the wrong way.

Immediately in motion, they reached Zephyr in three seconds, Linden said.

“He was still underwater. He was unconscious. We pulled him out. He had a very large head wound.”

— Linden Lovett, on rescuing her brother

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"He was still underwater," she said. "He was unconscious. We pulled him out. He had a very large head wound."

Zephyr suffered a broken elbow and wrist, along with a large cut to the back of his head. Rescued by a helicopter that lifted him from the river, Zephyr underwent surgery and now has casts on both arms, said Ariel King Lovett, his mother.

"Couple of months of down time and I'm sure he'll be back at it," she said.

Linden credited her basic medical knowledge, gained at the four-day long Exploring Careers in Health Summer Institute, as key to helping her brother.

Ariel Lovett is grateful for those at the river who helped her son.

"It's a private thing, but it also becomes a common thing," she said of why she shared her story. "It changed the lives of all those people who became part of it."

The river

Linden, her friend and Zephyr arrived at the river around 1 p.m. July 16. They parked and walked about a mile until they found a good spot.

Linden said they checked the river before Zephyr began jumping. One side of the rock led to a 6-foot deep spot with a sandy bottom. The other side was shallow, 1 to 2 feet, with rocks underneath.

Linden and her friend knew they had to act quickly when they saw Zephyr jump the wrong way. They pulled Zephyr from the river and Linden held him on his side, allowing any water in him to spill out.

"Immediately when we pulled him out we screamed for help," she said. "We just screamed."

Some people nearby approached. Linden's friend and another person then ran to the parking area to call for help.

An EMT at the river had a walkie-talkie. He could hear first responders, but didn't have enough of a signal to talk. From the conversation Linden said she could tell their location. It took about two hours for them to arrive, she said.

A California Highway Patrol helicopter arrived around the same time first responders reached Zephyr on the ground. The helicopter then hoisted him into the air and carried him to treatment.

Ariel Lovett said she's grateful to live in Nevada County, where her family can enjoy the river and mountains. She's also grateful for the first responders who helped her son, and for those like her daughter who have basic skills to assist.

"These kids did everything right in terms of getting help," she said.

Linden said the experience hasn't changed her attitude about the river. She said people must educate themselves about the river and visit it with people they trust.

"You can't not live your life," she said. "We aren't going to change our opinion of it."

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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