Canal canoeist's day turns scary
By Valerie Rowell
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue firefighters rescue Robert Martin after his canoe was sucked through the Augusta Canal headgates. It was supposed to be a lazy, sunny Friday afternoon paddling in the Savannah River. Instead, Robert Martin found himself and his canoe being sucked into and through the Augusta Canal headgates. "This was supposed to be a relaxing day," Mr. Martin said after emergency workers rescued him from a low concrete level of the headgates structure along the canal. "I didn't know (the current) was that big a deal until I was stuck in it."
Just after 1 p.m., emergency workers rushed to the Savannah Rapids Pavilion area to rescue Mr. Martin, who was stranded on the canal platform. Mr. Martin, who was not injured, told officials that when the current sucked him and his canoe in, he tried to hang on to a beam above his head, but a paddle tied to his boat got stuck in the headgates. "The canoe was bucking and kicking like a mule," Mr. Martin said, adding that the water current then shot him off the canoe and down several feet into the canal "like a shotgun." Mr. Martin, of Goshen Road in Augusta, said he climbed a more than 6-foot-tall stone wall to find that he was stranded on a low level of the headgates structure. A bystander called 911. "He's definitely lucky,"
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Cpl. Brian Hobbins said, adding that his office does not often get such calls. Mr. Martin, a former Marine who moved to the area from Illinois six months ago, agreed he was lucky but didn't look forward to facing his wife. "I'm going to be so dead when I get home," he said with a laugh. Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Danny Kuhlmann said members of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department Water Rescue Team located Mr. Martin's boat about eight miles downstream. Mr. Martin's wallet and cell phone were recovered from the boat.
Reach Valerie Rowell at (706) 868-1222, ext. 110, or firstname.lastname@example.org. From the Saturday, June 10, 2006 edition of the Augusta, GA Chronicle