The LaFarge Fire Department rescued four kayakers stranded on the rain-swollen Kickapoo River near Rockton on Sunday afternoon, the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department reported.
Overnight rains north of Ontario caused the Kickapoo River to rapidly rise, creating a swift current and unsafe river conditions, the Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
Vikki L. Hanson, 49; Karen M. Beard, 53; Lori J. Brabek, 51; and Mindy L. Thompson, 49, all of Rockford, Illinois, were on the river in kayaks that capsized and became stuck in a logjam between landing 10 and bridge 11. Hanson was able to place a 911 call at 12:20 p.m. and Kickapoo Valley Reserve Police located the stranded kayakers after an extensive search, but were unable to reach them due to the rugged terrain, the release states.
The La Farge Fire Department began the swiftwater rescue efforts by canoeing downstream from landing 10, reaching the stranded kayakers on a section of the Kickapoo with rock embankments on both sides of the river that made rescue efforts difficult. Safety ropes were deployed, and the stranded kayakers were hoisted to safety, and taken to a nearby medical triage for treatment, where they were treated and released from the scene, the release states.
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The Kickapoo normally has a slow current, but navigation through river debris has become a problem over the last couple of years due to continuous flooding, the Sheriff’s Department said.
River users have been advised to contact the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, Wildcat Mountain State Park and local canoe outfitters for current river conditions, as well as stay aware of current weather conditions.
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