Overturned Kayak Causes Scare on Connecticut River

Large rescue effort does not find anyone in the water

HARTLAND, VT - Rescuers from both sides of the Connecticut River were out in force Wednesday afternoon after what appears to have been the same overturned kayak prompted a response to the river in Lebanon in the early afternoon and then again at Sumner Falls in Hartland around 4:30 p.m.

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    As of 7:30 p.m. Wednesday authorities were not sure if a kayaker was actually missing or whether the kayak had simply slipped loose from a mooring somewhere upriver.

    Rescue boats from Lebanon, Hartford and Hanover were in the water at various points during the effort and professional firefighters from those towns as well as volunteer firefighters and EMTs from Hartland, Windsor, Cornish, Meridan and Plainfield also responded to sections of the river bank in their towns to assist.

    "There's like twelve different agencies on this right now," Plainfield Police Chief Paul Roberts said early Wednesday evening.  "All we know is the boat came from somewhere north of Lebanon and logically that was probably somewhere south of the (Wilder) dam but we've checked all of the boat launches and we didn't see anybody or find any cars."

    Chief Roberts said that if someone was in distress in the rapidly moving river the next point at which they were likely to be spotted would be down near the dam in Bellows Falls.  "The water today is moving so fast," the chief noted.

Cindy Potter of Hartland Rescue keeps an eye out

Hanover firefighters in one of Hartford's rescue boats checked below the rapids in Hartland

The Command Post above Sumner Falls in Hartland

Hartford Assistant Chief Alan Beebe (orange) and Hartland Rescue EMT Tom Williamson (yellow) with other first responders

Lebanon firefighters drag their rescue boat out of the river above the rapids

Hartland Firefighter Zach Wood surveys the turbulent falls

    Shortly before 6 p.m. Hartford Fire Chief Scott Cooney brought the search operations on the river itself to a halt at Sumner Falls after one of the two boats from his department that were in the water located the yellow-and-red kayak and then got it out of the river near the landmark Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge.

    The first incident began shortly after noon when witnesses reported an overturned kayak near the Veteran's Bridge which carries Interstate 89 over the state line above the Connecticut River between Hartford and the shopping plazas in West Lebanon.   Lebanon Fire crews from both of the town's stations responded and spotted the kayak but did not see anyone with it and decided not to retrieve it.

    Hours later, dispatchers received a call saying that someone on the shore had spotted the kayak going over Sumner Falls and "thought they might have heard someone screaming for help."

Hartford Fire Chief Scott Cooney and Hanover Fire Chief Martin McMillan at the scene

Vermont News can be contacted at vermontnews802@gmail.com 


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