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Rangers Save Man After Kayaking Accident

Amistad National Recreation Area

National Park News

On Christmas afternoon, the Val Verde County Communications Center received a 911 call reporting a person in the water waving for help near the Highway 277 Bridge. Ranger Andrew McGahan responded by vehicle, while ranger Matt Gilbert responded by boat. McGahan arrived in the area within minutes, and located a man in the lake approximately 75 yards from the shore. McGahan, a US Coast Guard veteran, entered the lake wearing an insulated “float coat,” swam to the man’s location, handed the man a throw rope, and towed him to shore. The man was found to have an altered level of consciousness and appeared to be suffering from moderate to severe hypothermia. Gilbert arrived soon after and the two rangers assisted the man to a waiting ambulance. He was transported to Val Verde Regional Medical center, where he was treated for hypothermia and later released. Investigation revealed that the man had received a new kayak for Christmas and had gone to the lake to try it out. At some point, the kayak capsized and drifted away, leaving him stranded in the water. He estimated that he had been in the 60 degree water for two hours before he was rescued. The man was wearing a PFD, which likely saved his life. The kayak was recovered the next day.


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