A group of about eight people on a canoeing trip ended up in the Tanana River late Wednesday morning.
According to Sam Woolfolk with Whitestone Farms, who rescued the individuals and brought them to the boat landing at the Tanana River Bridge, the group was associated with the Eielson ROTC program.
Woolfolk was out on the river when some canoers flagged him down and told him that part of their group had gone into the river upstream from the boat launch and were on a sandbar. Woolfolk went to locate the individuals. He ended up loading them up in his boat, along with their gear, and bringing them back to the landing.
“I went up with the intent of finding them, not rescuing them,” Woolfolk said.
Woolfolk went upriver about four miles before he found the group on an island. He said apparently two canoes had gotten tangled up in debris or trees along the river’s edge and one capsized and the other took on water. The individuals in the canoes reach shore and recovered one of the canoes. Woolfolk was able to get the individuals, their gear, and the recovered canoe in his boat.
The river is very high and the water flowing swiftly, Woolfolk said. “The high water caused some issues with getting them into the boat.” He said they had to work creatively to get around the normally unsubmerged debris to get to the canoers.
“There were a lot of downed trees under the water,” he said.
None of those who were involved in the incident required medical attention, but Woolfolk said two or three of them looked pretty cold.