Rescuers pluck kayaker from swollen Boone

‘It was phenomenal. I can’t say enough about the Webster City firefighters. I’m very, very proud of their professionalism.’

WEBSTER CITY — A woman who was clinging to a tree branch in the rain-swollen Boone River Wednesday afternoon was quickly rescued by Webster City firefighters.

Fire Chief Chuck Stansfield said the woman was safely in a rescue boat 9 minutes after firefighters were dispatched.

“It was phenomenal,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the Webster City firefighters. I’m very, very proud of their professionalism.”

The woman was one of two people who ended up in the river Wednesday afternoon after their kayaks apparently capsized. The other individual was able to get out of the water before rescuers arrived.

Officials did not identify either person.

The incident was reported at 2:10 p.m. Firefighters responded to City Park River Access. There, they met the individual who was able to get out of the water. That person told them about the woman still in the water. Fire Department captains Brandon Hayes and Jeromy Estlund quickly launched a boat and headed downstream.

Stansfield went to a place along the river north of Ohio Street. There, he and Webster City Police Officer Sam Long were able to communicate with the woman. She was holding onto a tree branch about 15 feet from the riverbank. She said she didn’t know how much longer she could hold on. Stansfield and Long assured her that help was nearby.

Hayes and Estlund soon arrived in the boat, and Hayes pulled her into it.

After she was brought to shore, paramedics from Van Diest Medical Center examined her and found she had minor bruises and scratches. She did not go to the hospital.

Stansfield estimated that the water was more than six feet deep at the point where she was clinging to the tree branch.

“The water is way up,” he said. “It is definitely not a good time to be out there.”

Webster City firefighters train every year to perform swift water rescues, according to Stansfield. He said about three hours of training is conducted locally on things like maneuvering the rescue boat and pulling people out of the water. Additional swift water rescue training can last from four hours to a couple of weeks, depending on the course, he said.