Accident Database

Report ID# 4009

  • Other
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water
  • Darkness
  • High Water

Accident Description

Two kayakers rescued from Little River Canyon early Saturday morning

December 26, 2015

by Denise Vickers

It took more than 12 hours. But early Saturday morning, crews rescued two kayakers from the Little River Canyon near Fort Payne. DeKalb County Emergency Management Director Anthony Clifton said two men (ages 29 & 30) from Birmingham were kayaking on Friday when they got stranded. He said one was on a rock and the other was on the bank.

Multiple agencies – local fire departments, rescue squads, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, DeKalb County EMA – assisted in the effort which started around 4: 00 p.m. Christmas day. Eventually, they rescued the two men using ropes around 4:30 Saturday morning. One was transported to a hospital for evaluation. The other is fine. As of Saturday morning, the Alabama River flow page listed the Little River Canyon as running at 11,700 cubic feet per second, the majority of the runs (sections) of the river were classified as high.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. – Emergency crews in DeKalb County spent hours Friday night trying to rescue a kayaker. The Little River Canyon near Fort Payne is where the rescue was effort was taking place. At last check around midnight, crews were still on the scene and had not been able to get the boater to safety. A DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency spokesperson told us that the paddler was perched on a rock in the middle of the river. The spokesperson also said crews considered bringing in a helicopter to assist. But, they weren’t able to do that due to the weather.

Dangerous Water Levels

High water and swift flow is what many kayakers crave. However, the amount of rain we had on Friday is making the popular whitewater rivers in Alabama potentially dangerous. Accomplished paddlers who are members of the Huntsville Canoe Club Facebook group, were urging caution and discouraging new or inexperienced paddlers from getting out on the rivers and creeks this weekend. One veteran kayaker implored fellow paddlers to think twice before putting “yourself, your paddling buddies, and possibly rescue personnel at risk.”

From Facebook: Most of you have heard but I had quite an adventure at LRC yesterday. All of the tribs were blown out so we decided to put on the chairlift section around 13,000 cfs (which I feel was within all of our skill levels) but Mother Nature had other plans and the river flashed to close to 28,000 cfs. I Got separated from my boat and ended up in the middle of the river for 12 hours. I plan to do an accident report on American Whitewater and AL whitewater but if you want to know the details give me a shout and I'll fill you in.

Just wanted to give a big thanks to all of the EMS, SAR, FD and PD who assisted with getting me back to shore. Also, thank you to all of my friends who drove from as far as Mobile to be there for me. Lastly, thanks to anyone you prayed or sent thoughts and good vibes my way! ‪#‎myfriendsaremyheros‬ Also, if anybody sees a white mamba or Werner shogun paddle in Weiss lake let me know!

Kyle Hulsey

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