2 kayakers rescued from Hitchcock Creek

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com A Rockingham firefighter cleans of a kayak used in a the water rescue of two recreational kayakers Wednesday night off Hitchcock Creek.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
A Rockingham firefighter cleans off a kayak used in a the water rescue of two recreational kayakers Wednesday night off Hitchcock Creek.

Two kayakers were rescued late Wednesday night after darkness fell on their journey down Hitchcock Creek in what turns out to be a real-life — and expensive — lesson on water safety.

Michael Parker and John Mullins were rescued at 11:19 p.m., nearly two and one-half hours after the original emergency call for help was received.

The two individuals started from the Roberdel access point too close to dark. In addition, they were unfamiliar with the terrain. No one was injured during the incident.

Jeremy Chance, deputy chief with Cordova Fire and Rescue, said the two kayakers were inexperienced. They did not have food or water with them and “one of them didn’t have shoes on.”

They didn’t have a map, either.

“The best advice I can give,” said Chance, an avid kayaker, “is pay attention to the trail markers. That would save so much … we spent four hours last night looking for these people … (and) I would definitely make sure I had a charged phone.”

Cordova Fire and Rescue was first to respond to the call that came in at 8:53 p.m. Assistance came from Rockingham Fire Department, Ellerbe Fire Department and Lilesville Fire and Rescue. The pair had last called family members at about 3 p.m. but the battery of the only cellphone making the trip ran out of power shortly after that.

“I don’t think they were in trouble at that point,” Chance said.

While Cordova rescue personnel were stationed at the the southern end of the blue trail, Rockingham personnel were posted at the Highway 74 bridge and deployed north and south of that location. Lt. Michael Mabe and Firefighter Warren McBride manned kayaks along the water route. Mabe estimated the pair paddled some 10-12 miles in their search. Meanwhile, firefighters Joseph Brown and Shannon Bailey manned TR-1, the unit’s all-terrain vehicle, from Love Lane along the Hitchcock Creek Greenway.

Rockingham Fire Chief Harold Isler said it was unknown at the time if the two kayakers were still in the water; it was possible the two had exited the water and were on land.

In addition to those from Rockingham, 12 personnel from Cordova were in on the operation along with four each from Ellerbe and Lilesville. Chance said Cordova, Lilesville and Ellerbe have automatic mutual aid agreements for water rescues, of which there were 16 in 2013.

Chance said it’s only the second incident in which Cordova emergency personnel have been involved in a search-and-rescue operation on Hitchcock Creek since the creek opened for public traffic. It’s the third overall, Chance said, as the Rockingham Fire Department responded to one other incident along the creek.

Isler called the event “a smooth operation” from his point of view.

Chance said he was the first to come upon the two kayakers, who had exited their watercraft and began walking towards the Cordova access point where Cordova Fire and Rescue had established a command post opposite Rockingham Fire Department’s CP at the Highway 74 bridge.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Capt. Victor McCaskill, of the Rockingham Fire Department, helps to clean and put away equipment used in Wednesday night's water rescue of two kayakers off Hitchcock Creek.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Capt. Victor McCaskill, of the Rockingham Fire Department, helps to clean and put away equipment used in Wednesday night’s water rescue of two kayakers off Hitchcock Creek.

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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  • http://peedeepost.com Trucker

    These two are a shining example of “what not to do.” The rescue personnel had to spend their time looking for them when it could have been spent on something that was truly an emergency. Dead cell phone, no shoes, bad timing on the launch and I’ll bet they forgot the mosquito spray.

    • Hannah

      This could have happened to anyone. Alot of people go kayaking on Hitchcock creek and I know they are not all experienced. It was a real emergency to their families! I mean worse could have happened I am just thankful that they are ok.

  • http://peedeepost.com Trucker

    @Hannah: I am also glad everything turned out well and that their famlies got their loved ones back OK. Things certainly could have turned out much worse. There’s a big difference between good old “common sense” and just plain “stupidity” and in this case common sense didn’t come into play. The rescuers put their lives on the line for something that never should have happened. One or some of the rescue staff could have very well lost their lives and left a grieving family(s) to bear the brunt. Hopefully these two lost individuals will learn a valuable lesson from their little foray, for which they were ill prepared. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Maybe, just maybe, they learned a valuable lesson and that in the future they will use COMMON SENSE instead of STUPIDITY.

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