Frightening moments Sunday afternoon for a Columbus man after police say his kayak flipped over at Hoover Reservoir and he nearly drowned.
Genoa Township Police Officer Ryan Miller said they responded to a call about a kayaker in trouble. "About the only thing I could see was his head sticking up out of the water , he was probably 20 or 30 feet out into the water from the shoreline," said Miller.
Miller keeps a rescue rope in a canvas bag in his trunk. Miller said he has never used the rope in an emergency. "I tossed it right to him. The rope actually went right over his chest and landed on him and he grabbed ahold of it and I pulled him into the shore. It must have been a lucky shot the first time.
"He didn't know how to swim. He panicked. Couldn't get into the shore. I don't know how long he was out there. He said he had been out there for quite some time. His friends were able to get his kayak back into shore. But they were unable to get him back into shore," said Miller.
Sgt. Shane Fry said they are seeing an increased number of kayakers and people on boards on Hoover. "We are out here to serve everybody ,protect everybody, make sure everybody is safe and having a good time. Life jackets are very, very important. Today was a prime example." Officers said the gentleman in his forties did have on a life jacket, but it was not adequate for his size.
"Some areas of that water are very cold. You need to wear a life vest when you go out there," said Miller. "You really need to get a life vest that fits you. So it can keep you afloat for a long period of time until somebody gets to you."
Police said the man had ingested a lot of water and was shaken from the mishap. Medics checked him out following the rescue and officers said he went home with family to rest.
"You never want to use that piece of equipment but you always want to have that piece of equipment for days like this, " said Fry.
Another officer Darren Hutchinson was involved in the rescue. Hutchinson said he enlisted the help of a nearby fisherman to head out into the water on his boat in case the rope didn't work.
Miller said he was just doing his job. The kayaker kept telling him, thank you, thank you. Sgt. Fry said this was the third life Officer Miller has saved this year.