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Man and dog rescued from water in DuPont State Forest

Mario Zambrano and his son were walking with their 11-year-old black lab named Lucas at Triple Falls. Mario said he tossed a stick in the water for Lucas to fetch, but he tossed it a little too far. Lucas jumped in and got trapped in a whirlpool current. (Photo credit: Zambrano Family)

A game of fetch nearly turned tragic for a Hendersonville man and his dog in the DuPont State Forest.

Mario Zambrano and his son were walking with their 11-year-old black lab named Lucas at Triple Falls. Mario said he tossed a stick in the water for Lucas to fetch, but he tossed it a little too far. Lucas jumped in and got trapped in a whirlpool current.

"There was a lot of water and the current was very strong. I didn't see it," Mario recalled. "I thought I was going to be able to get him. I didn't think that he was going to be heavy and the rocks were going to be slippery, you know. I just didn't think. It was very stupid what I did."

As Mario tried to save Lucas, he fell into the water. Mario's son recorded the incident on camera but when he realized his dad was in trouble, he cried out.

"I didn't hear the screams, but when I went home and saw the video it just brought tears to my eyes," Mario said. "I could see him panicking not knowing what to do. At the same time, hoping he doesn't jump in after me."

The water kept swirling Mario around like a blender, and each time he was sucked under water, he thought he was going to die.

"I went around. I started panicking a little bit. The fourth time I kind of gave up. I came to the idea that I was going to die drowning," Mario said.

Just as he thought he was going to drown, a man came to his recuse.

"It was just a piece of rope and he was able to toss it to me. I grabbed it and I do remember, with the other hand, I grabbed the dog," Mario said.

Mario said he would like to thank the man once again for saving his life. He said he's fortunate the hero was in the right place at the right time.

Both Mario and Lucas are doing fine. Their near-death experience has brought them closer together.

"He's very attached to me. I don't know if he realized what happened. He used to follow me a lot but now he follows me even more," Mario said.

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