Experts say kayaker’s rescue from icy waters offers cautionary winter tale

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 22, 2016) – Icy waters and frigid temperatures should be a big clue for people to stay away from rivers, lakes and streams.

“When the conditions are at the point where there are ice shells, you simply have to say you are not doing this,” says Ron Lewis, general manager of Rusted Moon Outfitters.

Although, the dangerously cold weather and partially frozen White River did not stop an Indy kayaker from going out alone without a life vest.

“Breaking every rule in the book, rule one is regardless of the temperature and the water level... wear a life jacket,” says Lewis.

The 28-year-old kayaker fell into the water and was partially submerged for around 15 minutes, leaving him with hypothermia. Emergency crews are not sure how he fell into the White River, but experts say that can happen to even the best kayakers.

“He could have run up over frozen ice that he did not see. He could be a skilled paddler that leaned too far when he was curving the boat,” says Lewis.

Emergency crews along with four bystanders put their lives on the line to pull the man to safety. He is now recovering at home. Lewis says there are several factors to consider.

“Check the conditions of the water. Is the river swift and fast? Is the lake huge and wind driven? Are there ice banks forming that would make it more difficult to get out?”

If you do see somebody that needs your help, use the reach and throw method with a stick or a long pole. You can use that to pull the victim to safety without stepping onto the ice.

Even in the frigid temperatures, emergency crews still have water rescues throughout the season.

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