SMITH COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — After responding to two calls in less than six hours involving overturned kayakers at Betty’s Island, the Smith County Rescue Squad turned to social media to emphasize the importance of wearing life jackets.
The squad said it was dispatched to the first kayaking incident at approximately 2:05 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19.
When personnel arrived at the scene, they reportedly discovered three kayaks in turbulent waters around the interstate pillars, as well as the kayakers on the island below the bridge. The kayaks were attached with a rope, but when the current pulled them to opposite sides, it caused them to overturn.
After speaking with the kayakers, first responders said they determined that if they could retrieve the kayaks, the kayakers may be able to resume on their own. After a few attempts, personnel were able to free the kayaks and return them to the owners.
At that, point, though, the rescue squad said one of the individuals appeared to be in distress, so he was carried to the Stonewall boat ramp and evaluated by EMS. Then, crewmembers went back to pick up the other two family members and bring them to the boat ramp.
“Thanks to some fellow kayakers for stopping and assisting these people until we could arrive,” the Smith County Rescue Squad wrote on Facebook. “Two of the subjects were wearing life jackets, the one transported for evaluation was not. We helped out the fur baby as well, and she had on her life jacket also. This could have had a tragic ending as the one without the PFD said he almost did not make it to safety.”
Shortly after 7:15 p.m., the rescue squad said it responded to Betty’s Island again for overturned kayakers.
Personnel said one female — described as crying and upset at their “near disaster” — was already out of the water by the time they arrived. Crewmembers helped bring the other individual back to the ramp safely.
Both kayakers reportedly had their life jackets with them, but they weren’t wearing them. Fortunately, they were close to the ramp when they capsized, the rescue squad said
According to first responders, you need to wear your life jacket when you’re out on the water. After all, nobody plans to overturn, but when you do, it may be too late to put on your safety gear because the current could push it away from you.
Meanwhile, the Smith County Rescue Squad said its services are free and its members are not paid, but it relies on donations to cover the expenses for each call, so if you would like to make a contribution, you can Venmo @SCrescue.