River Boating Campers Warned, Need Rescuing
Members of the Loudonville, Ohio, Fire Department spent nearly nine hours Sunday (May 29) rescuing more than a dozen people stranded on the Mohican River, the Mansfield News Journal reported.
At 2 p.m., rescue teams found 10 people, including five minors, caught in a logjam near Smith Campgrounds and Cabins, 16325 Holmes County Road 23.
Fire Chief Tom Gallagher said the group, all from the Cleveland area, were all in personal canoes and tubes. He noted that none of the area liveries were renting their equipment Sunday.
"A lot of our liveries are very responsible and wouldn't even think of sending canoes out in those kinds of waters," Gallagher said. "The waters have been high all year and different things will float in, things that weren't loose before become loose, and high waters cause lots of turbulence."
Gallagher said all 10 of those caught in the logjam were treated and released on scene.
"If the water gets really turbulent, it starts flipping stuff," he said.
Rescue teams were back in their quarters by 5 p.m., but not even a half hour later, calls for three more people stranded between the Class A and Class B campgrounds came in.
Two adults and a minor, all from Dublin and Galloway, were rafting and got stranded by trees.
All three were treated on scene.
"I think they all thought, 'Oh high waters. This should be exciting,'" Gallagher said. "But if we think back to the floods in 2007, a young couple from Indiana took out their personal canoe in high waters, which sucked them under and one died. Liveries may not send canoes out in high waters, but no one can stop people from taking out their personal canoes.
"People need to check conditions before they go out. Check with the local liveries or the local fire and rescues. We're just lucky no one was injured or killed this time."
Patty Shannon, office manager of Mohican Adventures, said she was disappointed in Sunday's turn of events.
"Those people were warned and they didn't listen," she said.
Between 8 and 9 a.m. every day, Shannon said the water levels are checked for safety. She said Charles Mill and Pleasant Hill lake levels, which control the Mohican River, are also posted online.
Many other variables are considered, including air and water temperatures. Sometimes only adults are cleared to raft.
Shannon said she can't remember another season in the past 30 years where water levels have been as high as they are this year.
"We opened April 1 and we've run about six days so far out of 60," she said, noting that levels are 8 to 10 feet above normal.
If people choose to canoe or raft despite warnings, Shannon said, they should take safety precautions.
"Make sure the river is clear," she said. "That's what got the people in trouble this weekend. Because we've been closed, we haven't been on the water to make sure there were no log jams — and there were three of them out there. But the water is so high, we couldn't get in there to do anything about them. People don't think."
No matter the water level, Shannon said, life jackets are mandatory.
"People should really respect the people who know the business," she said. "It's like driving your car through high water. You just shouldn't do it. There are so many dangers out there."