The quick actions of a couple of tourists may have saved the life of a kayaker near the Reversing Falls.

On Tuesday afternoon, a man paddling through the popular rapids in Saint John accidentally overturned his boat and yelled for help.

Paul Sanzone and his wife Joy are visiting from New Jersey and were taking in the sights of the Reversing Falls when the man caught their attention.

“Well, we saw the kayaker coming down the water and we were watching him,” says Joy Sanzone. “He was screaming, having a good time, and we were watching him, keeping an eye on him to see how he got through the rapids, and suddenly he got sucked into a whirlpool and was screaming for help.”

At first, the couple says the kayaker appeared to be in control, but things quickly took a turn for the worse.

“It just kind of quickly turned into shouts for help, but it wasn’t clear whether he was still joking,” says Paul. “But then he said ‘call 911’ and it became clear he really needed help.”

Paul quickly powered up his cellphone and called 911.

“Meanwhile, a fisherman came over and picked him out of the water,” says Joy. “They got the kayak and eventually the Coast Guard came over to help out as well.”

The couple says the rescue only took a few minutes from the time they noticed the man was in danger until help arrived. They say that had the fisherman and the Coast Guard not responded so quickly, the situation could have turned into a tragedy.

“The fisherman saved his life,” says Paul. “He had a good idea of what to do and how to handle the waters. He handled it like an expert.”

The man was not seriously injured and was treated at the scene.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Ashley Dunbar