Kayaker Rescues Family of Five

SUV rolled into the American River

Receive $50 off an eligible $100 purchase at the Outside Shop, where you’ll find a selection of brand-name products curated by our gear editors, when you sign up for Outside+ today.

A California kayaker saved the lives of a family of five after their SUV spun out of control and crashed into the river where he was paddling. The family was driving along Highway 50 in the Sierra Nevada region when their SUV swerved, struck a concrete marker, a tree, a boulder, then rolled into the American River.

Kayaker Mark Devittorio almost ended up underneath the SUV. “It’s fortuitous that they didn’t actually land on me,” he told KRCA. “I was kayaking right there moments before they plunged off this cliff and landed right there in the river.” Devittorio rushed to the family’s aid and was able to get the three children out of the SUV and safely to shore, however the driver and his wife were still trapped upside down in the front seats.

Fortunately, an Eldorado County fire truck was in the area and was able to reach the scene within minutes of the crash. The team was trained in water rescue and managed to extract the couple from the car. While the driver, Christian Lemler, suffered moderate injuries, his family was largely unharmed.

promo logo