MADERA — The Madera County Board of Supervisors plan to honor California Highway Patrol Officer Brent Donley this week (May 19), awarding a “Certificate of Recognition” after Donley saved a man trapped last weekend in a raging whirlpool above Bass Lake.
Donley’s impromptu heroics took place at Angel Falls in the Sierra National Forest.
On a hike while off duty last Saturday, Donley, a Fresno-based CHP officer who is trained in search and rescue, got word of a hiker about to go over a waterfall. So he quickly swung into action.
Taking a rope from his backpack’s drawstring and a tree branch, he fashioned a lifeline that, after several throws, he used to pull the man out of the frigid water.
The entire rescue was filmed by Donley’s wife Christina, who was with him on the hike. The video has now been viewed on YouTube nearly 35,000 times.
“I could see he was stuck,” Donley said in a later interview. “I walked over to where everybody was standing, and there was a bunch of people there, and they were trying to figure out what to do and how to get him out of the water.”
“IN RECOGNITION OF HIS BRAVERY AND COMPASSION AS HE JUMPED TO ACTION TO PULL A HIKER OUT OF WILLOW CREEK ON MAY 9, 2020” the board of supervisor’s certificate proclaims.
The Madera County Sheriff’s Office reports that 90 percent of its water rescues take place at Angel Falls.