Lakewood firefighters saved three people from the choppy
waters of Lake Erie on Sunday after a kayak overturned and a failed rescue
attempt by two others.
No one was injured during the incident, except a firefighter who cut his hand during the dramatic rescue.
The department deployed its water rescue boat after a call came in that a kayak had tipped over just west of the Rocky River at around 4:15 p.m. Sunday.
Two nearby women tried to save the man, as waves reached 6-feet high.
Instead, the unforgiving waves trapped all three of them.
Firefighters first pulled the two women to safety — up the side of a nearby hill with rope — but the water was too rough for the boat.
Once the rescue boat took on water, firefighters had to switch to Plan B, using an inflatable boat to rescue the kayaker, said fire chief Scott Gilman.
The US Coast Guard towed the fire department’s water rescue boat, which was slightly damaged during the incident.
“These firefighters did an excellent job,” said Gilman. “They got these people out of the water — they did what they were trained to do.”
He added that civilian water rescue attempts rarely end well — even though it seems like an instinct to help.
“And when there are small craft warnings, stay off the lake,” Gilman said. “Stay in the river. Those waves were big enough that they took out a 23-foot boat.”