Emergency responders help rescue three kayakers trapped on a fast-running river in Upson County in central Georgia.
Photo: Upson County Emergency Management Agency
Photo: Upson County Emergency Management Agency

3 kayakers rescued from swollen creek in central Georgia

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The three men were with a larger group, teens and young adults, who set out for a float down Potato Creek on Saturday afternoon. About 5 p.m., authorities got a call that half the group was stranded and needed help. 

Two were able to remain in their kayaks, but a third was tipped out and spent more than six hours in the swift water holding on to a group of trees, waiting for rescue, said Eddie Singletary with the Upson County Emergency Management Agency

Potato Creek is not a typical spot for kayaking or other recreation activities, he said, and with all the recent rain in the area, the rescue effort was difficult. When crews put in a motorized, inflatable raft to try to get to the men, they had to cut down low-hanging branches and push away limbs. 

“It was swollen out of the banks,” Singletary said of the creek. “I would say it was pretty swift with a pretty good undercurrent.”

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He estimated the water was flowing about 3 to 4 mph at Mud Bridge above the creek. 

The Upson EMA swift water team and one rescuer with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources operated the raft, known as a catch boat. They helped to pull the last kayaker onto the raft and to safety about 11 p.m. 

Several other agencies aided in the rescue, including authorities with Lamar and Spalding counties. 

Martha Ann McCarty, the director of the Upson agency, said some members of the swift water team had just returned from specialized training in Texas. That training paid off, she said Sunday on Facebook. 

“I can't say enough about how smooth the operation went in the rescue of three stranded kayakers on Potato Creek above Mud Bridge Road last night,” MCarty said. “... Cooperation and coordination made this all come together. And a rescue is way better than any recovery.”

The three men were taken to Upson Regional Medical Center to be checked out and were released soon after. 

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Singletary said the ordeal could have been avoided with some “common sense.” Authorities do no anticipate any charges.

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