Wichita Fire Crews Rescue Men After Canoe Overturns

By: KAKE News Email
By: KAKE News Email
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Two men had to be rescued from the 21st Street bridge over the Arkansas River in northwest Wichita Friday afternoon.

The pair were boating on the river just before 2 p.m. when they realized the water was too rough and climbed onto the girders of the bridge for safety, police said.

"It's just low enough where it sucked our boats in; took us under," one of the rescued men said.

The man, who did not give his name, said he and his friend have taken kayaks and canoes on higher, faster rivers before. However, his experience Friday afternoon may change that.

"Very scary," he said. "It's not worth doing. Never do it again."

The men sent a text message to a friend saying the needed to be rescued. That friend called 911.

Firefighters had to launch their rescue boat downstream and fight the strong and dangerous current back to the bridge.

"We had a safety from above where we were able to catch them if they were to slip or something," Acting Wichita Fire Battalion Chief Stacey Wespi said. "It was pretty involved."

Though the men escaped injury and were able to jump to the safety of the rescue boat, they face a fine.

"That's a violation of city ordinance," Wichita Police Sgt. Bill Stevens said. "Any time the water levels are this high, you cannot put a water craft into the water."

The law, Stevens said, is aimed at safety.

"As we've seen during the last week, it's very dangerous when the water is at high levels," he said. "Whether you have a water craft of not, you don't need to be on the water. It's very dangerous."

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