KENT, Ohio - Despite numerous public warnings by local authorities in recent days to stay out of the swollen Cuyahoga River in Kent, crews were called out to rescue people from the rough waters multiple times Sunday.
The Kent and Portage County Water Rescue Team put their boats in the Cuyahoga River Sunday morning to rescue two people whose kayaks flipped over in the river's dangerously strong and fast moving currents. This happened near Middlebury Rd.
According to Kent firefighter Scott Simmons, the kayakers hit rapid water, then ran into trees and capsized their kayaks.
Firefighters said those individuals were hanging on for their lives when first responders rescued them in the swift water.
“They got hung up in what we call strainers, which are trees that are in the river, but can actually capsize kayakers,” said Kent firefighter Scott Simmons.
Then, later Sunday afternoon, officials rescued a man and woman from the same river.
The man was trying to hold on and stand his ground in the fast moving river after his raft hit downed trees and flipped. The rescue team moved in with ropes and helped the man to safety.
At the same time, crews were involved in an even more dramatic rescue nearby. A woman was stuck under branches and couldn’t free herself from the water after her kayak overturned. She was also saved by the brave and highly trained rescuers.
Officials say there have been 18 rescue calls in the past 10 days. Adding that some of the people they’ve saved weren’t even wearing life jackets.
Simmons said he's never experienced anything like this before.
“Not to this magnitude,” he told FOX 8.
Fifrefighters say kayakers and water tubers are hitting the downed trees that were brought down from rough water after recent torrential rains and then getting flipped.
Officials explained kayakers and rafters need to be rescued before they get hypothermia or drown. Also reminding residents that the river is too high and the currents are too strong for people to be in the water.
For example, Tom Hawkins and his friends report that they showed up with a large blue raft, but the fire chief quickly warned him to stay out of the river until the water calms down, which could take several days or more.
“He said the trees were down, and it was pretty rough and they pulled some people out. He said he wouldn’t advise us to go. He couldn’t tell us not to, but it’s rough,” Hawkins said.
Firefighters also want to saw the downed trees blocking the river away, but can’t because they’ve been preoccupied with water rescues.
First responders remind citizens to stay out of the water until the water recedes to a safe depth.