BUCKHANNON — Wednesday evening, Emergency personnel came to the rescue of youths who found themselves stranded in the swift waters of the Buckhannon River about a half-mile downstream from the Tenmile Bridge. What started out as a fun floating excursion turned into a swift and frightening run down the river. The large tube was quickly pulled into the current and rushed downstream.
A nearby parent witnessed the event unfold and followed the tube’s course downstream along the bank. After realizing the minors were stranded between the rocks and in potential danger, she called 911.
Andy Potts, Assistant Chief of Washington District Volunteer Fire Department, was the first responder to arrive on the scene. Bringing gear and ropes in an effort to rescue the stranded youths, he tried to assist them off the rocks. After realizing that the gear would not be enough to execute a successful rescue, Potts put in an emergency call to the Buckhannon Fire Department Swift Water Rescue Team and the Ellamore Fire Department.
Upshur County paramedics Matt Crawford and Zach Conrad were on the scene to administer medical attention in case any of the youths sustained injury. The youths sustained scrapes and bruises, but no one was seriously hurt or taken to the hospital. “The river is running faster than it has been and the water levels are up due to the recent rain,” Crawford said. “I’d say the area of the river they were stranded at would be a class 2 with drops of 8 to 10 feet tall. The situation could definitely have been much worse,” Crawford added.
Chief Andy Potts stressed the need for river goers to be prepared when venturing out on West Virginia rivers. “It is essential to wear life vests and helmets when on the river,” Potts said. “It is also a good idea to know the river you go into; it can become dangerous for unexperienced rafters and swimmers,” Potts added.
Being prepared with the right gear and knowing the rapid classification description of a river could mean the difference between a day of fun or disaster on the river. It is easy to check the status of a river ahead of time at www.americanwhitewater.org