Wichita firefighters rescue kayaking mom, child and dog from Arkansas River near dam
Wichita firefighters rescued a mom, child and dog from the Arkansas River where they were clinging to a bridge pylon just before a dam Sunday morning.
Fire Marshal Stuart Bevis with the Wichita Fire Department said emergency crews were called to a submersion at around 10:50 a.m. near 21st and West streets. Two people — a mother and 7-year-old child — were in the river clinging to a bridge pylon just before a low-head dam. A kayak with their family pet was nearby.
Rescue teams lowered one person from the bridge as a safety measure while navigating a boat in close.
“We were able to get the child and the dog free right as the mother actually lost her grip on the bridge and we were able to fish her out of the water before she went over the dam into a very, very dangerous situation,” Bevis said.
No one involved was injured.
“Though kayaking on the river is a fun thing to be doing, we really ask people to be aware,” Bevis said. “... The boil that happens on the other side of that dam will kill people.”
The incident happened soon after the kayak entered the water. A family member who was still on shore called 911.
“Not exactly sure how they ended up already in the river, but I don’t believe they even had life jackets in place yet,” Bevis said. “They were not fully engaged in the activity yet because another family member was still getting other boats ready.”
“From the information I have, it’s just they lost control. It’s very deceiving, you think that you can just sort of sit in the boat right on the shore, and you can get drug in really quickly. If you’ve been around that area, basically she was clinging to life on the pylon, the bridge footing, and so it was very nearly a tragic situation.”