Man draws attention to dangers of low head dams as he reunites with rescuers

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A man who was rescued from the White River is trying to draw attention to water safety and the dangers he says led to his friend’s death.

On Wednesday, Warren Rosenthal reunited with rescue crews from Indianapolis Fire Department Station 14.

In July, Rosenthal and Lawrence Morrissey were finishing up a two-hour kayak trip when they became trapped in the boil of the low head dam near the 7300 block of Westfield Ave. in Broad Ripple. Within minutes, crews from station 14 had arrived and launched boats to rescue the stranded kayakers.

Unfortunately due to being trapped in the boil, Morrissey was unable to be saved.

“I was this far from not being here. That’s how close it was. The guy that was with me didn’t make it, so it’s pretty emotional,” Rosenthal said.

Now, Rosenthal says he’s on a mission to warn other kayakers and water enthusiasts about the dangers of low head dams; something he says he is motivated to do as a form of tribute to the life of Morrissey.

“If that dam wasn’t there, we would’ve just gotten to the take out where we were going to take out. And it would’ve been like any other day,” he said.

Captain Casey Sweeney described Rosenthal’s rescue as “low frequency and high risk.” Sweeney later added that the rescue was just one of multiple that his house made during that same week.  Like Rosenthal, Sweeney is hoping the story gets more people thinking about water safety

“It’s a good opportunity for us as individuals to see the severity of some of the situations that we deal with and kind of learn from it,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney says Rosenthal’s rescue has prompted more training scenarios for his crew on how to handle low head dam rescues.

Despite the ordeal, Rosenthal says he does plan on getting back in the water.

For more information on low head dams click here.

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