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First responders save woman stuck at base of 100 feet deep riverbank after kayak capsizes in Willoughby Hills

By Rachel Vadaj | April 21, 2019

WILLOUGHBY HILLS, OH (WOIO) - A man and a woman are safe after their kayaks capsized on the Chagrin River on Saturday. The Willoughby Hills Fire Chief Robert Gandee said a 47-year-old man and 46-year-old woman entered the west branch of the Chagrin River on Rogers Road around 4 p.m. They were headed to Daniels Park in Willoughby by State Route 84 when their kayaks capsized in the area of Milann Drive in Willoughby Hills.

The chief said the Lake County Sheriff’s office recieved a 911 call from a resident on Milann Drive at 5:43 p.m. saying a kayaker may have overdosed. Three minutes later, the caller called 911 again saying a there was not an overdose, but a kayer needed rescuing, according to the chief. The man was able to swim and make it back to the east bank of the river and found a home on Milann Drive to call 911.

The woman was stuck at the base of steep riverbank over 100 feet deep against the west bank of the river. According to the chief, water and technical rescue resources from the Hillcrest Technical Rescue Team, Eastlake, Mentor, and Willoughby Fire Departments were called to help. Additional support apparatus and manpower from Kirtland, Perry, Mentor-on-the-Lake, Wickliffe and Willowick Fire Departments were also called to the scene to assist in the rescue operation.

The man and the woman both had lifejackets with them. However, the chief said the woman fell out of her lifejacket when she capsized. The man had a lifejacket inside the kayak, but was not wearing it when it capsized, according to the chief.

Chief Gandee said both of them were only wearing regular clothing instead of survival suits to protect them from the cold water. The man was evaluated and released.