Authorities asking people to stay off rivers after multiple kayak rescues

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indianapolis Fire Department is asking people to stay off the rivers after multiple kayak rescues over the last few weeks.

On Sunday, two people were pulled from the White River in Broad Ripple after getting stuck in a low head dam. One of those kayakers died, while the condition of the second is improving.

On Monday morning, the body of a kayaker was found in Putnam County after officials spent the weekend searching for him.

The dangerous conditions across the area are likely only going to get worse with more storms on the way.

“Even though you may feel like you’re experienced, stay off the water until it goes down,” said Kevin Jones, IFD Special Operations Chief.

Conservations Officers with DNR said they’ve seen a huge increase in water rescues in the last few years. So far this year, they’ve already had 118 across the state.

“The water is always stronger than the strongest kayaker,” said Indiana Law Enforcement DNR Director, Col. Danny East.

“If you’re stuck in those hydraulics, there’s not a lifejacket or anything that’s going to help you. Somebody with a throw bag is the only option,” explained DNR PIO Lt. Bill Browne.

This year, DNR conservation officers have responded to five deaths in low head dams. First responders call them “drowning machines.”

The one in Broad Ripple trapped those two kayakers under the water for more than 20 minutes.

“It creates a hydraulic down there,” said Jerry Richert, Special Operations Captain with IFD. “Once you go over the face of this dam, you’re going to be recirculated.”

IFD officers risked their lives to save those kayakers. Both IFD and DNR are asking people to be prepared before they get on the water.

Click here for training provided by Hoosier Canoe and Kayak Club.

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