Tulsa Firefighters Warn Of Swift Water Dangers After Water Rescue

Wednesday, June 24th 2015, 11:45 pm
By: News On 6

With water levels high, many across Green Country are heading to the rivers to take advantage of them.

Wednesday, one kayaker found out the hard way just how dangerous the swift moving water can be after being rescued by firefighters.

Just after 2 p.m., a 911 call came in about a man clinging to a pillar along the Arkansas River in Tulsa.

The kayaker, who was wearing a life jacket, came just yards from being pulled into the dam.

6/24/2015 Related Story: Kayaker Rescued From Arkansas River Near Pedestrian Bridge

For the first time in ten years, Charles Tiffey decided to spend the afternoon fishing along the Arkansas River Wednesday.

"I had just caught a fish and looked down and when I did, I saw a kayak floating and I said to the other guy next to me 'That don't look good," Tiffey said. "At first I looked down the river to see if anyone was down there ‘cause I knew someone had to be in trouble. I'm just glad it was close so I could tell responders where it was at."

Tiffey immediately called 911 and Tulsa Firefighters responded.

Video from Osage SkyNews 6 HD shows Tulsa Fire Department rescue crews used boats to get to the man who clung tightly to a buoy as firefighters made their way to him.

"In the meantime, we had other firefighters get themselves on the pedestrian bridge in case he got tired and let go. We were ready for that," said Captain Stan May.

Using a life preserver, they pulled the kayaker into their boat and brought him safely to shore uninjured.

“I've never seen anything like it. Our Tulsa Department did a hell of a job," Tiffey said.

Firefighters hope the close call will be a reminder to people to stay away from the river even though the water looks tempting.

They said the current is swift and the dam alone is letting out 20,000 cubic feet of water per second.

"He got way too close to the low water dam. When he got in trouble he was in danger of being pulled into the rolling action of those waves,” May said.

So while the water is impressive, and a sight not often seen in the river, emergency crews suggest enjoying it from the safety of land.

The man wasn't ticketed; crews said they hope he learned enough from what happened.

Firefighters said they actually had two rescues going on at the same time. Around 51st Street, a person and their Great Dane slipped along the bank of the river and the current pulled the dog from its owner.

They successfully rescued the dog.