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Search & Rescue Veteran Explains How He Was Saved In Left Hand Canyon

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John Pellochoud

John Pellochoud (credit: CBS)

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A search and rescue veteran in Left Hand Canyon had to scramble up a tree to survive the flood waters in Left Hand Canyon.

“I could see logs and boulders; it was like throwing out boulders and I kind of resigned myself,” John Pellouchoud told CBS4 on Friday, a day after the terrifying ordeal.

Pellouchoud still remembers the last time there was a major flooding event in the foothills in Colorado — as a firefighter he helped to save people during the Big Thompson flood nearly 40 years ago.

This time Pellouchoud thought he was going to die as a 20-foot wall of mud and water swept him and his dog down Left Hand Creek.

“I slammed me into a tree and then I grabbed the limbs and I just climbed up,” he said.

He was trapped in the tree for approximately 2 hours.

“All my ears and eyes and stuff were packed full of silt. It was just pitch black, I couldn’t see anything.”

Another tree slammed into the tree he was in. He grabbed the other tree and jumped to a spot of dry land.

“I felt something brush my face and I looked up and it was my dog.”

Rocky Mountain Rescue was finally able to reach Pellouchoud and used a rope system to get him across the raging river.

“They just pulled me across and took me to the hospital,” Pellouchoud said.

Pellouchoud said he feels lucky, but he is very sad, too. He is good friends with the victim in Jamestown who was killed during the flooding when a structure that he was in collapsed.

Pellouchoud has rejoined the flooding search and rescue efforts that are still ongoing in Boulder County.

Colorado Floods: How To Help

The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.

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