POLK COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A pair of Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens rescued a man from the Trinity River earlier this month after his kayak capsized in the cold water, and he was left standing on a submerged stump.
They also rescued the man’s daughter, who had been stranded on the river bank.
“The good Lord was shining on him that day,” said Tim Walker, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department game warden for Angelina County. “We just happened to still have the boat hooked up, and we had gone to get something to eat when we got the 911 call. If the boat hadn’t been hooked up before we went out there, it might not have had a happy ending.”
Earlier in the day on Dec. 2, Walker and David Johnson, the TPW game warden for Polk County, had been patrolling Kickapoo Creek in search of illegal fishing nets.
Walker said the man and his daughter had been kayaking on the Trinity River the previous evening. When it got dark, they put in near the U.S. Highway 59 bridge near the Polk-San Jacinto county line.
The next day, the father and his daughter set out in separate kayaks, Walker said. He added that the dad didn’t see an underwater log until it was too late, and it turned his kayak sideways. As a result, the fast-moving current caused the kayak to capsize.
The man, who wasn’t wearing a life jacket at the time, managed to climb onto the log and stand up, Walker said.
At the same time, the daughter’s kayak got caught in an eddy, and she got turned around. She managed to crawl up on the bank and got stuck in mud up to her waist, Walker said. After the daughter managed to get free of the mud, she called 911.
Walker said the man had been standing on the log for about 20 minutes by the time they arrived and put their boat in the river. They spotted him after they traveled about a mile upriver.
“The situation was life-threatening due to the hazardous conditions on the river and cold temperature of the water,” a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department report stated.
Walker said the water temperature was probably in the upper 40s at the time of the rescue.
“That water was ice-cold,” Walker said.
The two game wardens rescued the man after they secured him with a personal floatation device. They also rescued the man’s daughter from the river bank.
The father and his daughter were very thankful, Walker said. He added that the father said his legs had been shaking uncontrollably from the cold.
According to the report, the man and his daughter were transported to safety, and they were released after a medical examination.