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January 18, 2013

Trio to receive Scouting heroism award

(Continued)

“It was actually a Class 4 rapid that day,” Luke added.

Outing Club leaders got their group out of the water to walk around the obstacle and observe how the river was moving around it.

Then the three leaders — Jason, Ian and Luke — got back into their kayaks and paddled the section, while the rest of the group opted to portage.

KAYAK FLIPS

When the three reached the bottom of the rapid, they saw another group coming through in kayaks.

“One of them ended up flipping and couldn’t right himself,” Luke said.

“He ended up swimming. He had on a life jacket and a helmet, but he drifted down the river.”

Luke and Ian peeled out of the eddy to try to help the overturned kayaker, whose name was Jeff Burger. 

Twice, they were able to reach him, but Burger kept being drawn back into the fast-moving rapids.

“He ended up getting washed on top of a six- or seven-foot-high ledge,” Ian said.

Several inches of water were surging over the rock. 

“He had also managed to grab a hold of his kayak again. He was hanging on, trying not to get washed to the bottom. He had his boat and was stuck on the ledge — he was actually pinned to the top of the ledge by his boat, which was full of water,” Luke explained.

The two Eagle Scouts maneuvered around the ledge and tossed a throw bag to the trapped paddler. 

“We pulled Jeff in. We got him onto shore there, and he was all right. But his kayak let go and washed downriver,” Ian said.

“Then Jason and one of Jeff’s companions, Bill De Angelis, went after the kayak,” Ian said.

“Jason started downriver but saw the horizon line (an edge indicating a rapid drop) and pulled into an eddy. Bill went over the horizon line and into a really nasty hydraulic. Jason tried throwing him a rope, but the bag didn’t reach him,” Ian said.

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