Kayaker Dies After Being Pulled From Arkansas River

Monday, May 24th 2010, 12:16 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News on 6 

TULSA, OK -- A kayaker rescued from the Arkansas River Monday morning in Tulsa has died at a Tulsa hospital. 

The man had been kayaking in Zink Lake, near 31st and Riverside.

Witnesses called for help after watching the man get caught in the current and go over the low water dam. The man fell out of his kayak, and tumbled around in the water.

The Tulsa Fire Department launched three boats in a search for the victim. It was tough going against the current, but they spotted the victim about a mile south of the dam. They pulled him onboard and rushed to shore while performing CPR on him in the boat. 

Paramedics from both EMSA and the fire department tried to restart the man's heart, hoping he might have survived at least 15 minutes in water. Despite all their efforts, the man never regained consciousness, and they were not able to restore his heartbeat.

The man went over the low water dam in a kayak, and witnesses say he rolled in the current for several minutes after he fell out of the boat.

"The low water dam continually circulates water, which pushed the victim down and back near the bottom and as he comes up it pushed them back down again and it's very hard to get out of that cycle, and it's very dangerous," said Capt. Alec Ridener, Tulsa Fire Department.

The rolling action of the water over dam is worse during high water and it's not the first time someone drowned after they were caught in it. There are warning signs on the dam, but the swift current right now can easily pull someone close even if they're far back upstream.

"Near the low water dam is definitely not the place to be playing for leisure. I think you can find places, especially now with the water moving very rapidly," said Ridener.

Medics worked on the victim at the shore and took him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. It was an unfortunate conclusion to a rescue effort the fire department trains for and has to perform several times a year.

EMSA estimates the man is 35-years-old. The name of the man has not been released.