Accident Database

Report ID# 115947

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Near Drowning
  • Cold Water

Accident Description

Biology professor helps save mother, child from Cuyahoga River

Darren Bade speaks with members of the Kent Fire Department after aiding in a rescue mission on Saturday, April 23, 2022. Bade, an associate professor at Kent State, was kayaking on Saturday when locals alerted him to a mother and daughter drowning further down the river. Bade helped the pair find land and waited with them until the fire department arrived.

Zaria Johnson, Editor-in-Chief

April 23, 2022

Darren Bade poses with his kayak after aiding in a rescue mission at the Cuyahoga River in Kent on Saturday, April 23, 2022

Darren Bade planned to spend his Saturday evening kayaking in the Cuyahoga River. When the Kent State biology professor approached the stretch of the river south of the West Main Street bridge in Kent, his kayaking trip turned into a rescue mission.

“I was kayaking here, and I was hiking back up the river when somebody was yelling that there [were] some people in the river.”

Onlookers in the Over Easy on The Depot restaurant’s parking lot, and along the West Main Street bridge, could see what fire officials said was a mother and her daughter struggling in the water. They yelled to Bade to help them.

He got back in his kayak and paddled north—when he saw the pair, he got out of his kayak.

“I quickly got back in [the water] … and assisted them to get kind of out of the water and on the island until the fire department could come over and get them from there.”

The girl “didn’t look like she was doing real well,” Bade said. “By the time I got to her, I [didn’t] know if she was breathing or not.”

The temperature of the water in the river was between 57.6 degrees and 59. 7 degrees according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In water ranging between 50 degrees and 60 degrees in temperature, hypothermia symptoms can set in within an hour, according the Loss of dexterity can occur within 15 minutes, exhaustion can set in within two hours and the expected time of survival is between one and six hours.

“The child appeared to be barely conscious,” Kent Fire Captain David Moore said. “So that kind of … expedited our efforts to get out there as quick as possible.”

The fire department received a call of a possible drowning at 6:58 p.m. Moore said. The Kent Fire Department responded to the scene, along with branches of the Portage County Water Rescue Team, which is a collaborative effort between fire and police departments throughout Portage County.

“We got two rescue swimmers immediately out there to stabilize the situation, and then we got a boat across to bring back mom and the child,” Moore said. It was still unclear Saturday evening where and how the mother and child entered the river.

Both were rescued from the water by 7:31 p.m. and transported to Akron Children’s Hospital.

“The child was out well ahead of that, so I would say within 25 minutes we had them out of the water,” Moore said. “When the child left and mom left they were both alert and conscious, so that’s good news.”

Zaria Johnson is editor-in-chief. Contact her at


From Darren Bade: I spoke with the mother tonight and I have a clearer picture of what happened. They were actually farther upstream than what I understood her explain to me during the rescue.  The daughter fell in about 0.2-0.25 miles upstream. This makes more sense to me about the poor condition they were in when I found them. And the mother did give her rescue breaths because she had stopped breathing.

The location they fell in is a gently sloping ledge that drops off quickly when it hits the normal water level. After high water recedes from that spot the ledge can get slippery from algea or mud, so I believe that's probably how she fell in. The mother said she (the mother) didn't know how to swim. The section they went through is pretty deep. The left shoreline is steep rip rap. The right shoreline has some eddies, but you'd probably need some swimming skills to get into them. Since she couldn't swim I'm guessing she was just trying to stand up somewhere.


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