PLAINWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities say several people had to be pulled from the Kalamazoo River on Sunday after their recreational vessels overturned.
Bystanders called 911 around 11:50 a.m., according to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, to report kayakers in the river in Plainwell. The sheriff’s office Marine Division and Dive Team and Plainwell Department of Public Safety responded.
Authorities say that after the first kayak flipped, others tried to help the person who was dumped into the water, causing their kayaks to overturn, too. In all, four kayakers ended up in the fast-moving currents. All of them were wearing life jackets.
Bystanders heard the kayakers calling for help and called 911. Another kayaker tried to help by paddling his kayak out toward the people in the water, but authorities said he was not wearing a life jacket. He did not succeed in pulling anyone from the water.
Dive Team members and police officers were able to rescue all the kayakers from the water and get their kayaks. None of the kayakers were hurt.
Later, just before 2 p.m., another kayak overturned upstream in Gun Plain Township, the sheriff’s office said. That kayaker was able to get himself out of the water.
Then, around 3:45 p.m., three canoers were dumped into the river and had to be pulled from the water by rescuers.
The sheriff’s office said it also pulled kayakers from the river on Tuesday.
Authorities warned that the Kalamazoo River basin is still flooded from recent heavy rain and advised people to stay out of the water, saying currents were too strong for even experienced kayakers and rafters.
People who do choose to go kayaking or canoeing should file a safe boating plan with someone outlining their entry and exit points and time or return. They should also know their location at all times, have a cellphone in a waterproof case, be careful not to overload their vessel and wear life jackets.
Bystanders were warned not to get into the water to help someone in distress. Rather, the sheriff’s office said, they should call 911 and attempt to use long poles, branches or ropes to pull people in the water. Authorities warned bystanders trying to help to be careful of riverbanks that may collapse due to erosion.