Tour boat helps rescue kayakers in Chicago River

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A Chicago River tour boat helped rescue two kayakers Wednesday afternoon after their boat overturned in the water. (WLS)

A Chicago River tour boat helped rescue two kayakers Wednesday afternoon after their boat overturned in the water.

Chicago fire officials said the kayakers were rescued from the river at Roosevelt Road. A Shoreline Sightseeing tour boat was passing by at the time, and the captain and crew stepped in to help rescue them. The tour boat called the incident in on marine radio and assisted the Chicago Fire Department and Coast Guard after they responded.

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A Chicago River tour boat helped rescue two kayakers Wednesday afternoon after their boat overturned in the water.


"The kayak flipped and the people were in the water and as our tour boat went by they were screaming for help. So our guys responded, which we've done quite a few times over the last few years, our teams train for man overboard drills so they reacted, they responded, and they helped out," said Chip Collopy, co-owner of Shoreline Sightseeing.

"We're trained to do this in the event that it happens... oh my god, once every 10 years. But this is becoming a regular thing," Collopy added.

Collopy said that in the last four days they have rescued three people from the river. He said it's a major safety concern.

"The Chicago River is not where you should put novices on a kayak. This is not where you learn to be a kayaker. You should probably go somewhere else and then come to the Chicago River," Collopy said. He believes that is part of the problem they're seeing.

The captain of the Evening Star immediately notified the Coast Guard, which responded to the scene as well.

Fire officials said both kayakers were wearing life vests. A Coast Guard spokesman said they were taken back to the rental company.

It's unclear which company was responsible, but the Coast Guard does have several safety tips.

"Everybody, always wear life jackets. Be aware of your surroundings, especially on water ways like the Chicago River," said Master Chief Alan R. Haraf, Coast Guard.

Jim McArdle of Urban Kayakers agreed that proper kayak training is important. His company didn't rent the kayaks in Wednesday's mishaps, and he said Urban Kayakers makes sure renters are prepared.

"We will insist that they go with one of our guides. We have a separate product called an intro paddle where they are going to teach them about kayaking before they ever go out on the water," he said.
Related Topics:
water rescuechicago riverboating safetyChicagoUniversity VillageNear South Side
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