Fire department crews from NY and PA rescue injured and stranded kayaker

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(photo: Greeley Fire Department)

LACKAWAXEN TOWNSHIP, PA – Fire Departments on both the New York and Pennsylvania sides of the Delaware River were dispatched for a search and rescue of an injured stranded kayaker early-on on the unseasonably cold Friday morning of September 2.

According to information received directly from Greeley Fire and Rescue (PA) and from other emergency unit posts, a man somehow lost his kayak last Thursday and was heard calling for help shortly after midnight Friday morning.  

The victim’s voice was heard calling from a remote area on the Pennsylvania side of the river. Verbal contact was able to be established with Yulan Fire Department (NY), but after falling and injuring his head the individual became unable to effectively communicate.

The physical location of the injured person was in Pike County, Lackawaxen Township.  Therefore, Yulan’s fire chief requested departments on the Pennsylvania side of the river to be dispatched to the victim’s last known communication location. Yulan remained involved until verbal contact was able to be re-established and rescuers were known to be within reach of the victim.

Once dispatched, a crew from Greeley Volunteer Fire Department, on foot, and a UTV (Utility Task Vehicle) crew from Central Volunteer Fire Department (Lackawaxen) entered a train track area along Lackawaxen’s Scenic Drive.  An additional UTV crew from Shohola Fire Department entered the track area along Stone Dock Lane in Shohola.  All began working towards each other, and after about 15-minutes were able to locate and begin preparing the victim for a two-mile transport to command.

“While on foot, our crew from Greeley heard a faint call for help and located the victim laying along the riverbank.  He was suffering from hypothermia and was in an altered mental status due to falling and hitting his head.  The crew assisted the man up the riverbank to the train tracks.  There, Central Fire Department’s UTV crew shuttled him to Lackawaxen’s ambulance, which was waiting at command,” Greeley Assistant Chief Kevin McCullough told MidHudsonNews.  “The victim was then transported to Wayne Memorial Hospital.”

The status of the victim was unknown this week, but treatment and a full recovery had been expected.

It is unknown how the victim became stranded, without any boat or supplies.  Since he was not able to effectively communicate, little was initially learned about him. However, rescuers noted that the victim was known to have been alone during daylight hours and had no kayak, phone, or other supplies while stranded on the remote riverbank.  He was dressed in shorts and a light tee shirt.  He had nothing with him other than what he wore.

“Dark hit, and he had no idea where he was.  He had no gear or phone,” McCullough said.  “It became dark and then cold.  We don’t know exactly where he fell, but we think he lost verbal contact with Yulan because, along with his injury, hypothermia set in.”

A reminder, issued routinely by the National Park Service and local emergency responders, is being reissued as a reminder as cooler weather and changing seasons approach.  Vital supplies and a fully charged phone should be kept with any boater, hiker, or other outdoor recreational users at all times.  Should one become displaced from a boat, lost, injured, or otherwise unable to make their way home, these items become extremely important to survival and being rescued. Do not travel alone, and if boating, kayaking, or swimming in the river always wear a life jacket – no matter the season.