JANESVILLE (WKOW) — Janesville police and fire went on a whitewater rescue Saturday, after a kayak flipped, leaving the man inside trapped by the Monterey Dam.
According to Officer Alex Erlin, the call came in just as he arrived to work.
"We literally started our shift with the tones going off and the radio, which means there’s an elevated priority call," he said.
A 27-year-old man was struggling against the current, pinned to the dam.
"All I could see was his life vest and at one point he was underwater for at least a minute to two minutes," Erlin said.
According to Erlin, the water was rushing so fast the officers weren’t able to get in and swim to the man but Erlin said after awhile, the kayaker was able get free of the dam’s pull.
"He had actually kicked loose, miraculously, and so he went downstream about 200 yards," he said.
At that point, Erlin said the fire department boat was able to pull him in, bring him to shore and hand him off to the paramedics. He was taken to the hospital but later released.
"I’m glad he was wearing his life jacket, because I don’t think he would be alive," Erlin said.
According to police, the recent weather we’ve seen has made matters worse. The heavy rain has swollen the Rock River and made water even quicker around the dam.
David Dorcey said he’s been fishing at the river for years and at this time of year he said it’s usually five to six feet down, but it’s almost always dangerous to be in the water.
"This river isn’t as easy as it looks," he said. "We got the eddies that will sweep you right around."
The area around Monterey Dam has signs warning people to stay out of the water and Erlin said while it’s always important to follow those signs, conditions are especially dangerous when the river is high.
"I would really suggest people obey those signs because they’re there for a reason," he said.
Janesville police used their drone to assist with the rescue. It’s one of the drone’s first missions since the department got it last December.