Water Rescue team, firefighters help two kayakers on Kiski River

September 27, 2018
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Twp people are rescued from the Kiski River in Parks Township on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, after their kayak capsized around 4:00 p.m.

Two kayakers from Pittsburgh were enjoying a float on the Kiski River Friday afternoon when an unseen snag ruined their trip.

Tracy and Howard Derrick were on schedule to return the kayak they rented from The Rivers Edge Canoe and Kayak near Leechburg when a tree under the water suddenly snared their kayak just south of the village of Kiskimere in Parks Township.

They could almost reach the snag in an effort to free themselves, but the swift current intervened.

They were tossed into the water in a challenging stretch of deeper water. Both were wearing flotation vests.

Firefighters and the Armstrong County Task Force 340 -Water Rescue team arrived to help the two.

The Rivers Edge owners also stood by in case their help was needed while they also helped maybe a dozen other recreational boaters enjoying the bright, warm late summer day.

No one was injured.

The rescue took about an hour from the first call, said Allegheny Township Fire Co. Lt. Bill Klems, who directed the rescue from the railroad tracks above the river on the Westmoreland County side.

Klems said rescuers rappelled down two hillsides to reach the shoreline. Then ropes were thrown to the couple in the water and they were helped ashore and up the hillside.

Rescue craft and the snagged boat were eventually docked at the Hyde Park landing, not far from the Hyde Park Fire Department.

Task Force 340 Chief John Uskuraitis, who also is a Markle Fire Co. assistant chief, assisted throughout and then helped to prepare the equipment for the return to the stations.

“Another rescue. Everything went OK,” he said.

The Derricks met up again with the kayak and some of their belongings at the landing.

“I lost my hat with my fishing license and my fishing rod, but we’re OK,” Tracy Howard said.

Rescuers retrieved a large cooler that still had a sandwich inside.

“We try to come up at least once a year. But our schedules can be difficult,” Tracy Howard said. “It was memorable. But everybody’s OK.”

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