Water Rescue in Shelby County, Sunday


June 17th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Fire fighters in Harlan were called to an unusual water rescue on the NishnabotnaRiver Sunday morning south of Corley in ShelbyCounty. Harlan Fire Chief Roger Bissen says the call came in around 10-am Sunday about two kayakers, who had gotten into the Nishnabotna River at Nishna bend, and were heading toward Hancock.  Bissen says they got about a mile half from Nishna bend before their kayak’s tipped over and the man and woman in their 50’s became stranded in debris in the water. Bissen said the female was on one log about 10 feet from shore, while the male subject was in a tree hanging onto branches and was about 30 feet from shore.

Bissen said the couple never attempted to make it to shore. He says if they had tried, they wouldn’t have been able to, because the bank was about 12- to 15-feet straight down into the river. The pair were able to dial 9-1-1 while they were in the river, though. Fire fighters received information from dispatch following the 9-1-1 call, but they also had assistance from aircraft that were in the area for the Harlan Flight Breakfast. 

The planes circled above the pair and radioed back to the airport their location. Firefighters found the couple and repelled down the bank, before putting them into rescue vests and pulling them up a steep bank. Bissen said the couple was from Omaha, and were out on a leisure activity for the weekend. The Chief said the river is at a dangerous stage right now from all the rain and people should be aware before hitting the water.

“When we get a lot of rain and the river goes up, they become very dangerous. You have a lot of water with turbulence from debris. So you get the turbulence before and after and that causes problems if you are in a boat, kayak and really dangerous if you have to try and swim out of the situation.” Following the rescue, the unnamed kayakers were checked out by medical staff before being transported over to Nishna Bend to shower and clean up. The Harlan Fire Department was assisted by Harlan Police Department, Medivac Ambulance, the HarlanAirport and Shelby County Sheriff’s Department.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)