It was getting close to dark Monday night and the worst of the storm was over.
For about 10 hours, I had covered the effects of Hurricane Irma, now a tropical storm, from Midland to Double Churches Road and midtown to downtown, and I was headed home.
Then someone called me and said there was a river rescue in progress. I was not surprised, having seen kayakers on the river a couple of hours earlier.
What I found down by the river was not a rescue.
It was Mayor Teresa Tomlinson —and Geraldo Rivera. And it gets stranger from there.
Just before 7 p.m., Rivera, a Fox News contributor, was interviewing Tomlinson near the Chattahoochee RiverWalk. Rivera said he wanted to chase Irma and had driven from North Carolina to Columbus hoping to catch her final act.
He wanted to talk to the mayor about the high waters on the Chattahoochee in 1995 during Hurricane Opal. “We were about to interview the mayor — Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who has a great reputation — we came down waiting for her at the River Club,” Rivera said.
Then he saw two men walk to the riverbank and leap in.
“I thought they were committing suicide at first,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine what they were doing.”
Tomlinson called 911 to report the men jumping into the river. And emergency personnel responded.
They were a couple of thrill-seekers swimming into the rapids at high flow. I think Rivera said the mayor called them “daredevils.”
“I saw them disappear under the rapids, then re-emerged hooting and hollering,” Rivera said. “They got out OK, then scattered before the authorities got here.”
Tomlinson said Rivera had been trying to reach her throughout the day to set up an interview.
“The whole thing was surreal,” she said.
She thinks it’s surreal. She should try being the reporter who walked up on it.