Mom places frantic call to 911 after kayaking accident in Arkansas River

(Source: Wichita Fire Department)

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Tuesday, July 16, 2019

On Monday, the Wichita Fire Department released details on a water rescue on the Arkansas River involving a mother and her son.

Now, we're hearing the call for help she placed to 911.

In the call, the woman says she and her 12-year-old son are stuck by the dam at 21st and West Street. She says it's their first time kayaking on the river and they didn't realize the dam was there.

"It was our first time going down the river alone and we lost the kayak and my son and I are just clinging on to the...we're in the river. We need help," she tells the dispatcher.

She says they've lost one kayak, but their dog is in the other one.

"We're not in the kayak. We have a big green kayak and a dog is in the kayak and we're just hanging on."

She then tells the dispatcher she didn't realize the dam was in front of them.

"There's signs that say watch out for the dam, but I didn't know it was right here, I thought it was behind us."

The dispatcher works to keep her calm.

"No, I understand ma'am. Our focus right now is to just make sure you guys stay safe, okay," he says.

He tells her police are nearby. She then informs him she has to let go of her phone.

"Yes, we're holding on, but um, I need to put my phone down so, I'm going to let you go, okay?" She says.

"Just it open, leave the phone on and sit it down," says the dispatcher.

You then hear garbled speech as if the phone is underwater.

We do know crews rescued the woman, her son and their dog from the river.

Wichita Fire Marshal Stuart Bevis says it's important to be aware when you're out on the river.

"It's very deceiving. You think that you can just sit in the boat, right on the shore and you can get drug in really quickly. And if you've all been around that area, You know, basically, she was clinging to life on the pylon, the bridge footing. It was a very, nearly tragic situation," he said during a briefing on Monday.

(Bevis' interview begins at -6.29)


Monday, July 15, 2019

The Wichita Fire Department rescued a mother, her child and the family pet after they found themselves clinging to the bridge in the Arkansas River Sunday morning.

Fire Marshal Stuart Bevis said around 10:50 a.m., a family member called to report two people in the river in distress near 21st and West Street.

Crews arrived to find a mother and her child clinging to the bridge pylon. Their dog was in a kayak that was clinging near the low dam and bridge.

Bevis said the initial rescue team calmed the mother and asked her to hold on while a second crew lowered one crew member from the bridge and brought in a watercraft.

He said just as crews freed the child and the dog, the mother lost her grip on the bridge, but crews fished her out of the water before she went over the dam into a "very, very dangerous situation."

"When somebody thinks they're going to shoot through there, the current drags them and puts them back into it," he said. "And so that's the problem, they can't get out and eventually, it's going to put them back under the water and probably pin 'em. That's what's happened in the past, unfortunately."

Bevis said luckily, everyone involved in his situation - the mother, her child and the firefighters - all came out "unscathed."

He said it's always important to be aware when you're engaging in water activities. He said he didn't believe the family had even begun kayaking when this situation because they didn't have on life jackets.

"From the information I have, they lost control because it's very deceiving. You think that you can sort of sit in the boat right on the shore and you can get drug in really quickly," he said.