GRDA Rescues Man Trapped In Neosho River In Mayes County

Friday, April 14th 2017, 1:51 pm
By: Tess Maune

The Grand River Dam Authority rescued a man stranded in the Neosho River Friday afternoon.

The location is Sportsman Acres northeast of Chouteau. The call came in at about 12:30 p.m. on Friday, April 14, 2017.

The Neosho River below Lake Hudson started rising quickly because the GRDA was releasing water at Kerr Dam to generate hydro-powered electricity.

There were sirens to warn people, and it didn't take long for a low-water dam about two miles away to turn into raging rapids, causing a man to be stranded.

Video from Osage SkyNews 6 HD showed GRDA Police using two boats to get near the man who was standing on rocks in the river with the water rushing around him.

It's unclear what the man was doing in that spot, but the GRDA said it’s possible he was fishing when the warning sounded to let people know the water would soon start rising.

Justin Alberty with GRDA said, “You have sirens in place and lights and warning sirens in place to help prevent this, but, unfortunately, sometimes they still do get stranded.”

Once the rescue began, the Grand River Dam Authority shut off the generators at the Robert S. Kerr Dam on Hudson Lake so that the water lever would fall. Alberty said the spillway gates were not open, that the water flowing in the river was only from the power generation operation.

It's just downstream from where GRDA Police rescued a couple last August. That rescue operation took about two hours.

August 5. 2016 Related Story: Two Stuck In Spillway Below Lake Hudson Rescued

The man was wearing a life jacket - Locust Grove's swift water rescue team gave it to him, the GRDA said.

It took about an hour for the water flow to subside enough for rescuers to help the man into their boat and bring him to shore.

“They're moving slowly out here, everything seems to be cautious and deliberate, which it needs to be in this situation,” said Osage SkyNews 6 HD Pilot Will Kavanagh from up above.

When the rescue teams got closer they still weren't close enough to get him in their boat.

“That's a good five to six-foot from his feet to that next rock, and there's not much in there that he can really step on with that water moving fast,” Kavanagh said.

If he had tried to jump, the outcome could have cost his life - even with a team of trained rescuers on scene

Alberty said, “When you get into that kind of current, even with a life jacket, the water can push you up against a rock, or up against other debris, maybe a log underneath the water. It can trap you in those situations.”

Fortunately, that wasn't the ending, and after about an hour the rescuers were able to get the man to safety.