THORNTON — Just after 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 29, Campton-Thornton Fire Rescue along with the Woodstock Fire Department responded to the Pemigewassett River in Thornton near Depot Road for a water rescue.
Upon arrival, crews located a single patient who was out of the water, being assisted to a nearby residence by bystanders. Crews were advised that children playing outside, heard a kayaker yelling for help and observed the patient pinned to a fallen tree on the side of the river, commonly referred to as a "strainer." The children quickly told their parents, who called 911.
Simultaneously, the children's father ran to the river and assisted the kayaker, who was wearing a PFD, but was hung up in the branches, being pushed under water by the current. The bystander was able to pull the kayaker to safety within moments of being pushed under water, saving the kayaker's life. The kayaker, who is experienced, advised that they had struck a piece of underwater debris, taken on water and then lost their paddle before striking more debris and becoming trapped against the fallen tree.
The kayaker suffered only minor injuries and was evaluated by EMS but declined ambulance transport and was released at the scene. Crews cleared the scene a short time later.
"The combination of a properly worn Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and observant children immediately notifying their parents of trouble, led to a life saved," said Chief Daniel Defosses, who went on to say "The bystanders should be proud of their actions, they truly came together to save a life."