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Capsized kayak brings out Portage County Water Rescue Team

Incident in Cuyahoga River in Kent is 2nd report in 2 days

By MATTHEW MERCHANTStaff Writer Published: June 7, 2017 4:00 AM
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For the second time in two days, water rescue teams in Portage County responded to capsized boats or missing kayakers.

On Tuesday, the Portage County Water Rescue Team was called out to John Brown Tannery Park in Kent for an upside-down kayak found in the water.

No one was found with the capsized craft, but water rescue found a life jacket, paddle and cell phone in a waterproof Pelican case. A second paddle was found later on further down the river near the Middlebury livery.

Kent police and fire responded to the scene after a woman called in an unusual object in the water under Summit Road bridge. She said she was walking near the bridge when a bright red object caught her eye.

Ravenna and Suffield fire departments responded to the scene as well.

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Lt. Mike Lewis of Kent Police said the rescue team was following up on a possibly unrelated sighting of a man upstream closer to Franklin Mills Riveredge Park. Two girls had been walking down the trail and saw someone in the water.

The incident is still under investigation and could be completely unrelated to the found kayak, according to police.

The alleged owner of the boats contacted the Record-Courier on Facebook, saying he left two kayaks in the water on Monday evening after losing control of them and scraping his arm. He and another kayaker attempted to rescue the boats before they were swept away by the current. Both had their phones on the boats and couldn't call the missing craft into police, the owner said.

On Monday, Camp Hi in Hiram Township reported three campers missing during a kayak trip down the Cuyahoga River.

After several kayaks were found abandoned on shore, the water rescue team was activated to search for the campers in the river near Mantua. The kayakers were found elsewhere, safe and unharmed.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of State Parks and Watercraft recommends that "Regardless of the paddling activity chosen, make your trip safe and enjoyable: Never boat alone."

At the time of the Kent incident, the water height of the Cuyahoga River at the Hiram Rapids was nearly 4-foot deep with almost 300 cubic feet per second of water discharge. The current was so quick, rescuers couldn't enter the river without a rescue motorboat.


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