Fire officials urge water safety after dramatic rescue caught on camera

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Fire urges the public to practice water safety after a dramatic rescue was caught on camera last week.

Richmond Fire crews responded to a man who was stranded on the James River. The man had been kayaking when the high river levels became too rough.

The kayaker was clinging onto trees as the strong currents tried to pull him. This was all caught on camera by Shivani Patell who was visiting Richmond with her family.

She witnessed as the man screamed for help.

“This was like gushing water…defininetly not safe for anyone to go into the water,” Patell said.

People who saw what was happening called 9-1-1. Richmond Fire rushed to the river rescuing the man in just 15 minutes.

“We were scared, everyone there was super scared for the person,” Patell said. “I thank God they came in so quick and saved him.”

Chris Armstrong with Richmond Fire said they train for water rescues and see them most from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Fire officials are warning people to use their best judgment when swimming or participating in water activities on the James River.

“Know your limitations,” Chris Armstrong said. “Don’t try to do more than you are used to, the James River…even though it has its natural beauty there are some inherent dangers.”

Armstrong added that they average anywhere from 80 to 100 rescue calls a year.

Richmond Fire reminds everyone to be cautious as the peak season arrives.

“Definitely, know your water levels, scope out the river weather gets nicer, try to go with a partner,” Armstrong said. “Definitely, have a way some people can get in contact with you.”

Remember that if the water is at 5 feet then a life vest is required. At 9 feet it is a criminal offense to be in the water unless you have a permit.  

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