Newton County and Porterdale Fire units rescued a kayaker Tuesday evening after stronger than normal waters ripped away his boat, leaving him stranded on a rock in the Yellow River.
About 7:20 p.m., dispatchers received a call that a man was stranded on a rock in the Yellow River, just about 100 yards downstream from the Porterdale Mill Lofts, said Newton County Fire Department Chief Mike Satterfield.
The kayaker, Justin Hodges, 20, of Covington, had overturned and then lost his boat in the swift current that was fed by recent rains.
A friend that was also kayaking with him grabbed Hodges' boat, pulled it ashore, and called 911 for help.
"The problem is, the water is so swift, you can't fight it," said Porterdale Police Chief Wayne Digby.
Satterfield said many outdoor thrill seekers sometimes become bored with ordinary conditions and make the mistake of underestimating more intense storm situations.
"I'm sure they thought this was more of a challenge," he said.
By the time rescue crews arrived, it was around dusk, said Satterfield. Rescue crews tried for about an hour to reach Hodges, trying one side of the river and then the other. An NCFD training officer who is an expert in rope rescue, also came out to the scene, said Satterfield.
"When you get in swift water, it's a whole different situation," he said. "If you're not careful, the rescuer becomes the victim."
Rescue personnel eventually threw a rope bag to Hodges, who was about 50 feet from the shore. He tied one end of the rope to himself, and, with the rescue crew holding onto the other end, jumped back in the current and was pulled to shore.
Hodges, who had on a helmet and life jacket, told police he was OK other than a few bruises.