Body Of Water Affected Title Description

Kickapoo River

Posted 07/16/2008
Kickapoo Warning after Rainfall 2008-July-24 update From Rene Christesen :
"We talked to the owner of Kickapoo Yacht club in Rockton where we rented our canoe from. They have cleared one side of the jam but he stated the river was not really safe yet at this time as there were still several currents and logs waiting to get you."

Below is a warning from Rene Christesen describing her and her group's near-fatalities on the Kickapoo River. Normally this river is a friendly river but rainfall can quickly change the nature of this river as you will soon find out. On Thursday July 10 the river was flowing at about 300 cfs, by Saturday it peaked at 1800 cfs - a six-fold increase in just two days. When you're done reading her report you'll want to see the article by the WI-DNR regarding the dangers of paddling during high water where they cite the Kickapoo as an example.

"We went out Sat. late morning and were told the river was not the river we have paddled before. Now in hindsight, they should not have let anyone out there. Even strong swimmers and experienced paddlers shouldn't be out there.

The river is at least 6' deep where it is normally closer to 4 inches deep, there is a fast/strong current running and the usual river banks are gone. We put in at bridge 5- where we always do and were on the water for maybe 45 minutes when we encountered what looked like a beaver's dam. This was a log jam of several logs, branches and etc that was the entire width of the river and about 12-15' across. The first 2 canoes in our party hit the far left side of it and were "fine". Dennis was in a kayak and went to the right side to see if it was passable. He had a heck of a time getting back up river to tell us it was worse there and then he got sucked into the middle against the dam. His kayak rolled and he got tossed into the river and went under. We figure it was at least 30 seconds before we saw his head again and were sure he had drowned. He told us he was shoved up against the bottom of the dam and had to hand over hand fight his way to the other side. He is an experienced lifeguard which probably is the only reason he is still alive. And, had he had on a life vest, he would have gotten snagged for sure.

We were back river against the bank and went to see if we could help save Dennis when our canoe was sucked into the dam. I can think of no other way to say it other than it was like being caught in a vortex of sorts. Karen and I got tossed out and the last thing I remember saying started with an "F". We were both trapped under the canoe which was now being shoved against the dam with all the water pressure. I tried to get to the top of the canoe where there should have been a pocket of air and all I got was a huge mouthful of water. I really thought I was a goner! I opened my eyes to see what I was facing and saw the rim of the canoe. I grabbed it and had to really push my way out past it and then to the surface. I got another mouthful of water as the current shoved me back under again. I finally got my head out and got a breath when I heard that Karen hadn't surfaced. I yelled I need help and then was trying to figure out how I was going to get about 8' over to where she should be. Her head then broke surface and she got a big mouthful of river and then she went back under and came back up- she had a life jacket on. She was able to grab onto one of the other canoes and they got her out safely. Now, that left me, about 15+ feet on the "wrong" side of the bank. I was standing on a submerged log which was a saving grace believe me. Dennis,who lost his glasses in all of this came across the soggy mess of yuck to help me up. Of course I was facing the wrong direction and had to turn around- not easy when you are scared and on a slippery log! We made our way back to the other side- I did have my left leg go thru once and ended up spraining my ankle so I guess no Wii for awhile as it's still pretty sore and I have it wrapped."

Be sure to check the Kicakpoo USGS gauges before heading out on the river. ....

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