Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson says that the rescue of two St. Helens-area men from the Columbia River happened “just seconds” before both would have been lost. Around 1:30 yesterday afternoon, the Columbia County River Patrol and aid crews from Columbia River Fire and Rescue dashed to the north end of Sand Island, where Kawai Niau, 24, and Kyle Snider, 19, were struggling in the current of the river. Witnesses directed the rescuers to the two men, who had been swimming near a wing dam in that area. Niau called out that he could no longer tread water, while Snider was about 100 yards further downstream, and was losing consciousness. Deputies quickly pulled Niau onto their boat, then sped down and got to Snider. Dickerson says that Snider was unresponsive when they arrived, and was unable to grab a rescue rope. One of the firefighters jumped into the water, got hold of Snider, and then both men were pulled on board the boat. Snider was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in critical condition, but he’s listed in good condition this morning. Niau refused medical treatment on shore. Dickerson says that both men would have been beyond help in just a few more minutes, and the quick work of the Deputies and Firefighters made the difference in this event.