Mill Creek is a Class V steep creek Water Rescue in Luzerne County
"NewsWatch 16" Monday, June 26, 2006
Rescue crews worked for hours Monday afternoon to free a man stuck in Mill Creek off Jumper Road in Luzerne County, PA. Crews were called in at about 3 p.m. after recieving reports of a kayaker who became stuck in the creek. Witnesses said they encountered a man flagging down traffic along Jumper Road, seeking help. It was clear that more help was needed and rescuers were calledfrom across the county. They used ropes to go down a 75 foot embankment and then a 50 foot embankment to reach the kayaker then worked for hours to save the man who was pinned inside his boat. Just before 6 p.m. the man was freed from the creek and flown to the hospital. Paul Hoda of White Haven was listed in satisfactory comdition at Community Medical Center in Scranton. Both Hoda and the man who flagged down help are said to be experienced kayakers.
Kayaker cheats death
BY ROBERT KALINOWSKI STAFF WRITER
PLAINS TWP. ? An expert kayaker's will to survive enabled him to keep his head above water for two hours Monday after his craft smashed into sharp rocks in Mill Creek, injuring his legs, his kayaking partner said after a dramatic rescue. "He's probably the strongest person I know. That's the thing that saved his life," said Clark Gallo. "If the situation had been reversed, I think I'd be dead." The victim?s legs were broken and wedged in between rocks in chest-high water, and turbulent rapids gushed over his head and shoulders, Mr. Gallo said.
A kayak instructor who has helped in "hundreds" of rescues, Mr. Gallo, 26, said he knew the situation was bleak. He said he harnessed his friend's head with a rope to help keep it above water, then trekked up a densely wooded hill off Jumper Road, where he flagged down a motorist who called 911 at 3:13 p.m. and triggered a massive rescue mission. Dozens of rescue workers on four-wheel-drive and all-terrain vehicles extricated the victim at 5:12 p.m. then hoisted, carried and drove him up several levels of a rocky cliff. Just before 6 p.m., they finally got him to an open field along Jumper Road to an awaiting helicopter for an airlift rescue that almost didn't happen. Several times, the pilot warned he'd have to leave because of incoming bad weather. But the weather held off and the victim was flown to Community Medical Center.
His condition wasn't available by press time. "It hurts," the man said while being secured before being placed in the aircraft. "It's cold and my legs hurt." Authorities did not identify the man, only saying he was in his 30s, but crews kept responding to him as "Paul." They said his injuries were to his lower extremities but weren?t immediately aware to what extent.
Mr. Gallo said the victim lived in White Haven and confirmed his first name was Paul, but declined to provide his last name. He said the victim was aformer member of the U.S. National Kayak Team, also was an instructor, trained for about four hours a day, and had navigated the creek about 10 times in the past. The two had been kayaking since 9 a.m. and were on their third waterway of the day when the accident occurred, he said. Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Stephen Bekanich called it a ?very intensive rescue? and added that high water levels and fast rapids from recent heavy rains put the victim at risk after the accident, and might have contributed to the wreck. The accident is still ander investigation.
Ray Hamad, 42, the man Mr. Gallo flagged down, said he called 911 and rushed back to the scene with Mr. Gallo. ?I went down to see if we could help him. But it was too dangerous,? said Mr. Hamad, owner of a flooring company who was on his way to a delivery. ?He kept saying, ?Get me out of here.? They're lucky both of them didn't get hurt and stuck. Nobody would have found them.?
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