This is Jeremy Cass. Recently I was involved in a rescue where a good Samaritan pulled a pinned kayaker ( a layback pin in fact) out of their boat and away from hazard. It happened on the New Haven Ledges in Bristol VT. I was the kayaker.
My buddy and I were working on our second lap of the day when we were accidentally lead through a well known hazard. I was the third and became trapped on the upstream side while my bow and stern were pinned below and above me. The water was high medium, cold, and the force of it was pushing me deeper into the pin. I had a decent air pocket, and my group was scrambling to get to me when I was able to twist and see a young man (late 20's, mid 30's) right next to me on shore. He was in a perfect position to pull my life jacket up, and keep my head above water until helped arrived or I could get free. Luckily, the bank had great footing, and the good Samaritan was able to pull me up by my shoulder straps where I was then able to kick myself onto shore.
As soon as I got to shore my party arrived with a support crew of local boaters, who checked in on me, and made quick work of my pinned boat. The good samaritan had only stopped to see "the kayakers on the river" and had to go back to work. Though I was trapped for just over 30 seconds, and recovered all my gear and person, if the good Samaritan did not pull on my shoulder straps, it would have meant CPR, or worse. Later in the day, I was able to track down his phone number and since thanked him with all my heart. I later learned that locals avoided the area we accidentally ran, and that since Hurricane Irene the river was slightly harder and more consequential that it had been in the past.
If there are any recognitions for non-kayakers helping a whitewater boater, Alan Schmidt of Vermont deserves it. Things happen quickly, even to skilled and experienced kayakers and his help made a real difference. Please let me know if you have any questions, or that he can be recognized.
PS The next day I raced in and volunteered at the New Haven Ledges race. I performed a live bait rescue that kept a local favorite from running 15 foot toaster falls without his kayak at the crux move on the river. It was nice to at least return the favor.