Kayaking is the most fun when the river is high and the water is dangerous, according to Marc Nelson. That’s why Nelson and his friends went kayaking down Logan river on May 30, the same day that a van was accidentally driven into the river, putting a mother and her young children in danger.
Nelson’s group had finished their run down the river and were on their way back up to where they’d parked their car when they reached the traffic pileup caused by the incident. Nelson said they got there just a few minutes before the firefighters did, and they were ready to jump in and help where they were needed.
“It seemed natural to me and my friends. That’s the mindset you get into when you’re on the river. You want safety to be your number one priority,” Nelson said.
The kayakers ended up crossing the river with a rope and helping set up the pulley system that search and rescue used to extract the family from the car. Everyone made it out safely.
This isn’t the first time that Nelson was nearby when something like this happened. Three years ago when three people drowned in Provo river on Memorial day, Nelson had been out kayaking with some friends. He said they passed the place that it happened about twenty minutes too soon.
“I’ve thought a lot about it. Had we been on the water in that moment, who knows what could have happened, but maybe three people wouldn’t have died that day,” Nelson said.
Nelson said he’s glad that he and his friends were there this time to help. He said he felt prepared because it’s not uncommon for someone to end up in dangerous waters when kayaking, and kayakers have to be ready to come to the rescue.
According to bystander Erik Nielson, the fact that the kayakers were there was one of many fortunate events that led to the safe rescue of the family. An amateur radio operator also happened to be nearby when it happened, so he was able to call for help even though cell service was spotty.
“Someone was looking out for that family that day. That was a miracle in many ways,” Nielson said.
Nielson had been in the canyon mountain biking with some friends. They were one of the first groups to stop to offer their help. Michael Adams, who was part of Nielson’s group, said he and Nielson walked into the river a little ways and talked to the family until certified rescuers arrived. Later they were asked to help man the ropes that search and rescue used to get rescuers to the car and to remove the passengers one at a time.