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Canoeists Talk About Water Rescue

June 24, 2010, 5:54 PM by Erica Johnson

Canoeists Talk About Water Rescue
SIOUX FALLS, SD - For the second time this week, Sioux Falls emergency crews were called to the same area on the Big Sioux River for a water rescue.

Two canoes cast off around the 57th Street and Western Avenue area. But one of the canoes caught a tree and tipped leaving a Brandon mother and son clinging to their overturned boat. The rushing water carried them half a mile downstream before they were able to slow down. For their friends in the second canoe, it's an experience they won't forget.

Erin and Megan Fry had just launched their canoe with their friend and her son. Minutes later, they realized the river didn't look like it usually does.

“We went around that first bend and I told Erin, 'Wow, there are a lot of trees over here.' They say the water raised about four feet overnight,” Megan said.

That's when the canoe with a Brandon mother and her son caught a tree and tipped over. The Frys watched helplessly as the water carried them downstream, clinging to their canoe.

“We saw them, and even with their life jackets on, they kept getting pulled under. The current was really strong,” Erin said.

It wasn't until half a mile down the river that the mother and son were able to grab a fallen tree and hang on.

“We didn't realize how serious it was at first. We just thought they flipped over and we knew the current was strong but as soon as we tried getting to shore we knew it was bad.  There's no shoreline at all,” the Frys said.

Once the Frys finally got to dry land, they found a bicyclist with a phone and called 911.

“It was frightening for us.  I mean he was scared.  They held on for a good half hour to 45 minutes by the time the rescue team got them out,” Erin said.

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue had to use their raft to pull the two to safety because the current was so strong and the water was so deep. For the women who made the call, they're extremely thankful their friends are safe and urge others to stay off the river until the water goes down.

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue has issued an advisory. They are encouraging canoeists and kayakers not to use the Big Sioux River and others in the parks to use caution until the high waters recede.

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