Sunday, September 14, 2008

More on the river rescue...

Since I first posted on last night's rescue efforts, one of the TV channels posted a slideshow with pictures. This gives you an idea of the number of people involved in pulling the victims to safety.

Here are updates of the articles posted...

Eight People Rescued from River in Sumner County

Rescuers pulled eight people from the swollen Chikaskia River in Sumner County early Sunday morning.

A man who was near the area fell into the water and later died a a hospital. Sumner County officials say the 48-year-old was not part of the rescue effort and it's unclear why he fell into the river.

The situation began early Saturday evening when a group of people got into trouble while rafting near Argonia. Firefighters tried to reach the group, but three of them ended up getting stuck.

Search and rescue teams from Wichita helped in the second rescue operation which began around ten o'clock. Everyone was pulled from the water by 12:30.

The victim's name has not been released.

8 People Rescued From Swollen Chikaskia River

Around 8 o'clock Saturday night, a page went out to Argonia Volunteer fire fighters. Five young adults were stuck on a raft, trapped in the raging currents at the swollen Chikaskia river's dam. They were not wearing life jackets.

Kevin Catlin was the first responder on the scene. He said he knew the situation was too much for their crews to handle on their own, so crews from Wellington were called and arrived a short time after.

Wellington Fire Fighters arrived and immediately put their boat in the water, but instead of things getting better, the situation continued to grow worse.

The boat with three Wellington Fire Fighters capsized. Now eight people were trapped in the waters of the roaring river in need of rescue.

"We had to have Sedgwick County crews come down and assist us, and we greatly appreciate them," said Catlin. But unfortunately, before they arrived, a former Volunteer Fire Fighter from Argonia braved the terrifying currents trying to save those in harm's way.

The currents proved too strong. The 47 year old man was pulled from the strong waters and was taken to Via Christie St. Francis hospital in Wichita where he died a short time later.

"You could call it heroism," said Catlin "Our prayers go to the family, and I'm sure the whole city is behind me on that one," he said.

A fund has been set up by the Fire Department to honor the life and memory of the town's fallen hero. For more information on this fund, you can contact the Argonia Fire Department.

Fire Fighters like Kevin Catlin also want to remind the public to always wear a life jacket when on the water. If the waters are swollen and rapid, do not go in. It's just too dangerous, he says.

"Not only are you putting your life in danger," he says, "But you're putting the lives of the rescue workers in danger as well."


Five rafters were pulled from the Chikaskia River near Argonia after a river excursion turned dangerous. Officials say one juvenile and four adults were rafting on the swollen river when they became trapped near a dam. During the rescue attempt, two firefighters fell into the water and also became trapped. Everyone was rescued at about 12:30am after crews from Sumner, Harper and Sedgwick counties were called to the scene.

A 48-year-old man also fell into the water during the rescue attempt. He was taken by ambulance with serious injuries, and later died. Officials say he was a bystander, and not part of the rescue.
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