Rescued kayakers 'lucky' to be alive - abc27 WHTM

Rescued kayakers 'lucky' to be alive

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - From the bank of the East Shore, all you could see were specks of orange. Two kayakers, trapped, were stuck in the middle of the Dock St. Dam just below the South Bridge. River Rescue crews responded around noon to save the men.

Harrisburg Fire Dept. boats, Cumberland River Rescue, Harrisburg River Rescue and Susquehanna River Rescue loaded their boats into the water and quickly raced to where the men were located.

Fire Chief Brian Enterline described the intense moments and the problem facing the dam.

"It's a killing machine, it's a drowning machine,” he said. “Once you get stuck in that backwash, it pushes you back against the face of that damn. You just continuously go in a circular motion back into the wash underneath the water."

Three boats were floating as several crews waded through the water and plucked each man way from danger. One-by-one, Harrisburg River Rescue crews brought each brother to the Harrisburg-side shore, safely. One of the kayakers gave a ‘thumbs up’ as he was being lifted in the back of an ambulance.

Although Chief Enterline was glad to see both men rescued without injury, he was angered that crews had to risk their lives because the men ignored the literal warning signs.

"There's signs and buoys just a hundred yards north of the dam,” he said. “There's buoys that say, do not go past this point. And, every year we have people continuously come past this point."

Enterline said both men told police they thought they could go over the dam.

When asked point blank, one kayaker said, “I couldn't...I couldn't stop. That's the problem."

Water Conservation Officers said both men would be cited for ‘negligent operation’ and most likely be fined.

Enterline said a bad decision could have harmed crews’ lives or other residents as resources were tied up assisting these men. But he is glad a poor choice did not become a deadly disaster.

"Today we are lucky that we didn't have two fatalities and were taken out by body bags," Enterline said.

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