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    A distant sound of helicopter blades, thwap-thwap-thwap, cut through the silence, and told us highway patrol aircraft was approaching.


    As we neared Pinball Rapids, we came to a land formation in the middle of the river, extensive enough to be called a tiny island.


    THWAP-THWAP-THWAP. Above us, came the deafening sound of the approaching helicopter. It’s harsh beam of light drilled through the darkness and lit up the river.


    I remembered there was a rock ledge under water, on the right side of the island.


    People could actually camp on the island. I had camped there several times, although it probably broke some law prohibiting it.


    I nudged the raft to the right considering it the best way around the island and the rock ledge.


    The aircraft banked around the island as well, changing the angle of the spotlight. And as the angle changed, Shelby let out a high-pitched shout. “That's him!” I paddled harder, adrenaline shot through my arms. The copter hovering low held its position, the heavy spot shone on a body caught in the branches of a fallen tree, a tree washed up against the island. The body wearing a jacket was caught in the tree branches.


    It had to be Cade.


    “Over here!” My voice penetrated the chilly air. The other two rafts tightened the slack and joined us. One of the guides called dispatch to let them know.


    We were probably a quarter mile from the take out at Stack House, the place where our raft trips normally ended, and where we pulled rafts and kayaks out of the water and loaded them on top of Kingfisher’s buses.


    “We found him,” I yelled to the other guides. “There’s a rocky ledge on the right side.” I paddled as close as I could, purposely snagging the bottom of the raft on rock to anchor it temporarily.


    “Shelby, stay with the raft. I'm going in.” I swung over and dropped into the river.


    “Hey, Sam, I need you here.” I waved an arm at another guide in the rescue party.


    The splashing told me the guide was already in the water.


    Jeez, Cade, don't be dead, man. Don't be dead.


    I scrambled around separating and moving through slippery branches, and grabbed Cade’s arm. Sam, right behind me, took his other arm. Cade was pinned by the tree that was pulling down into the water, though his head was barely above water. We tugged, maneuvered branches and his body to free him from the trap. It seemed to take forever to break him loose from the branches. Moving in rhythm, we lugged him out of the water onto a kind of ledge, laid him down and rolled him over. He coughed and heaved, and brought up water, a dark puke. Then he gasped for air. We did little to resuscitate him. Without our help, he coughed, brought up more water, and shuddered for breath. His skin tone appeared gray and lifeless under the spotlight.