GILBERT, W.Va. – What started out as a relaxing day kayaking on the Guyandotte River for two locals, turned into a water rescue mission.
According to Justin Thomas, Safety Director for the Gilbert Volunteer Fire Department (GVFD) a 911 call was received around 12 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, that a kayak had capsized around the Justice bridge.
Upon their arrival members of the GVFD found Cody Houck of Gilbert and an unidentified female in the water.
Information obtained by officials from family members at the scene, state Mr. Houck had gotten his kayak against the bank of one of the islands, while trying to dislodge the kayak he overturned into the water.
In an attempt to pull him out of the water, the female companion pulled her kayak alongside him and extended her oar. At this point the second kayak capsized also.
Due to large amounts of rain in the area recently the water was high and flowing swiftly.
Immediately, a call was made to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers asking for their assistance by shutting off the water flow from R.D. Bailey Dam.
Mutual aid was requested from Logan County Swift Water Rescue Team and Hanover Volunteer Fire Department Dive Team and Swift Water Rescue Team.
By the time the rescue teams arrived on scene the water was at a level where ropes could be used for the rescue. Both people were rescued without incident and neither was injured.
R.D. Bailey Maintenance Supervisor Robert Vanhoy said the U.S. Corps of Engineers put a high emphasis on water safety and that safety gear should always be worn in the water.
“It’s hard to believe anyone would put a kayak in that kind of water,” he stated. “We were running about eight feet above normal for this time of year.”
“In 21 years, I’ve never had this happen before,” Vanhoy commented. “I’m glad it ended how it did and nobody got hurt.”
(Pineville Independent Herald reporter John Conley contributed to this article.)
Kendra Mahon is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be reached at [email protected] or 304-235-4242 ext. 2278.