Dozens Rescued From French Broad River

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Sevierville (WVLT) - Rescuers pulled more than 50 rafters, kayakers, and tubers from the French Broad River Monday afternoon.

It all started around 4:30 p.m. when the Sevier County Fire Department responded to a call to rescue two tubers stuck under a tree. A combination of the rushing water and a brewing storm prompted them to tell rescuers that a group upstream also needed help, but the rafting company they were with says everything was fine.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy has the latest.

The manager of Mountain View Canoe and Wild Water Limited says he was with his group of 84 on the river when rescuers arrived, and he couldn't have been more surprised.

He says the group from Memphis put their kayaks, inner-tubes, and inflatable kayaks in the water upstream at the Douglas Dam, but about a half-hour earlier, two people bought tubes and traveled down the river by themselves. They were the ones who called 911.

After rescuers got them to shore, they drove upstream to the larger group. Rescuers say they found several children in the river, cold and scared by thunder and lightening. The Sevierville Fire Department and rescue squad pulled 54 people to shore.

Of that, 25 were children and they were treated for mild-hypothermia at the scene. Then, they were released.

However, the company manager says he's doesn't understand why the rescue happened at all.

"I was picking up the rear. I followed everyone down river and there was nobody in any trees. All the kids were in the current and everything was under control. I got almost to the end, and I see the boats coming out with fire rescue and all that. I was just shocked," Mountain View Canoe manager Rick Bernadi said.

"With the weather the way it was when they encountered the group, and they were quite a few children who were scared and frightened. I think it was very fortunate we were there," Sevierville spokesman Bob Stahlke said.

The company manager says everyone with his group was wearing life jackets.

Around 35 rescue workers from five agencies in Sevier County and Sevierville responded to the rescue.

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  • by EC on Jul 31, 2007 at 04:05 PM
    The main upset for the children, and the reason they cried was due to the amount of ambulances and rescue units they saw upon coming to shore. The news cameras made it even worse. All of the children are 100% healthy,and safe.
  • by relliott Location: TN on Jul 31, 2007 at 03:09 PM
    My daughter was one of those rescued from the Memphis camp. She says that some of the kids were very cold and the storm that began was very scary. She also said that water was released from the dam and the water became quite rough having started out as smooth. It may be she wasn't expecting rapids because I haven't seen this mentioned in any of the coverage. She told me that she left her tube to try to help some other kids whose raft was stuck and was swept upstream. The snake that was swimming by was the most upsetting. She was very glad to be rescued.


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