Photos and info by Rita Reith
On Sunday, July 9, Indianapolis firefighters responded to a call involving two veteran kayakers who got into trouble on the White River.
Responding to the midday call, Engine 6 took the East side of the river and reported to command that they had visual on two kayakers in the boil, both conscious and visually communicating and both wearing life vests. Initial efforts to throw a rope bag to kayakers were unsuccessful.
Rescuers aboard Zodiac Boat 14 deployed and, finding one kayaker now unconscious still circulating in boil made the decision to leave him in place and go after the other kayaker in distress. Zodiac 14 pulled this kayaker from the water underneath the Monon Bridge at the area of the strainer; he was conscious but extremely exhausted. The other unconscious kayaker drifted downstream and was pulled from the water suffering from cardiac arrest. Firefighter Kenny Lang began CPR in the boat during transit back to shore.
The second kayaker–identified as Lawrance Morrissey 48, of Fishers, Indiana–succumbed to his injuries. The other kayaker, who is not identified, was hospitalized in critical condition but has reportedly improved.
Under the command of Battalion Chief Dave Owens and the Operations Command of Captain Casey Sweeney, the teamwork displayed by all the responding crews was without fail. This is the same shift and set of firefighters that rescued five women kayakers just 14 days ago on June 24. There have been 18 people retreived from Indianapolis-area waterways in the past 19 days.
RITA L. REITH is a battalion chief with the Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department and serves as the agency’s public information officer.