Accident Database

Report ID# 9353


Accident Description

Just passing on this newspaper article; don't know any more about it than what's there. This reach would ordinarily be flatwater, but can be risky at high water.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton, MA, 6/9/17

South Hadley firefighters rescue stranded kayaker, warn of river danger


Thursday, June 08, 2017
SOUTH HADLEY – South Hadley firefighters are urging boaters to stay off the Connecticut River after a kayaker had to be rescued Thursday morning.

South Hadley Fire District 1 received a call shortly after 10 a.m. for a report of someone in distress in the river below the Holyoke Dam. Emergency crews arrived on scene about seven minutes later, according to District 1 Fire Chief Robert Authier. “The way the river is flowing and the way the dam is running, no one should be on the water,” Authier said. “Nobody should be launching boats period.”

Authier said fishermen noticed a man clinging to an island tree upstream from the Chicopee boat launch. He was believed to have been in the river for at least 15 to 20 minutes, Authier said. “He had taken his kayak from the Chicopee boat launch, was able to maneuver up toward the veterans bridge, got tangled up, tipped over, ended up hanging on a tree in the island,” Authier said. The man was able to keep hold of his kayak but lost his paddle. Authier said it’s his understanding the kayaker was wearing a life-vest.

Around seven emergency responders used a Zodiac life boat to rescue the man, who Authier said is from Holyoke. Fighting the river’s current presented a challenge for firefighters, Authier said. The kayaker was evaluated and refused medical treatment. “He is lucky people were out there,” Authier said.

On Thursday morning, Brunelle's Marina took to its Facebook page warning boaters about the “very high water levels.” “Ramps and all docks will remain closed today. Boats cannot leave the docks based on water conditions. PLEASE DO NOT try to access boats at this time - it is not safe to do so! Boats are secure due to the cables running under docks,” the message stated.

The business notified people they would be posting updates on its Facebook  and website as conditions change.

From Montague to just past the Conneticut border in Thompsonville, water levels in the Connecticut River are high. “Right now it is higher than normal,” said Nicole Belk, a senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton. “Given the forecast for the next few day, I would expect the river to continually gradually recede.”

The river peaked in Northampton around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday at over 109 feet. Minor flood level is 112 feet, according to the Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service.

Emily Cutts can be reached at

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