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Kayakers rescued from Sugar River
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PAOLI — Fast-moving water could have claimed a life last holiday weekend, but thanks to area first responders, a pair of people in kayaks were rescued from a rain-swollen Sugar River.

The ordeal began on Wednesday, July 3, just before 3:40 p.m., when the Belleville Fire Department and Belleville Area EMS, were dispatched to the Sugar River in the Town of Montrose — just north of Paoli  — for an overturned kayak and person in the water, according to statement the fire department released after the incident on social media.

“Fire fighters arrived to find a 53-year-old female clinging to a down tree in the river and in distress,” the statement said. “Fire fighters specially trained in swift water rescue entered the river and safely removed the person to the shore. “

Authorities added that the kayaker who was not wearing a personal flotation device was not able to rescue herself due to the strong current. The kayaker was assessed by EMS and released. A second kayaker, meanwhile, was able to safely get out on her own at Paoli.  

Experts caution against launching small boats in flooded rivers or fast-moving water.

“At present the Sugar River is 5.5 feet above flood stage and moving at three times its normal speed,” the statement said. “It’s a good rule always wear a personal flotation device in all bodies of water.”

The rescue swimmers who responded were trained and equipped, in part, by a regional Federal Assistance to Fire Fighters grant and donations from the community.

— Gary Mays