A pair of Raleigh firefighters dropped in by helicopter Sunday afternoon to rescue two Campbell University students who had been stranded for three hours, shivering in their shorts and T-shirts, in the turbulent Cape Fear River in Lee County.
Three students had been kayaking on the river when they went over a dam, spilling two of them into the water, Lt. Darrell Adams of the Raleigh Fire Department said. The two floated about a mile downstream before they were able to crawl onto a rock, while the third remained nearby in his kayak.
Adams and Senior Firefighter Jason Ceisner were called out, along with two State Highway Patrol pilots, as part of the state Emergency Management Division’s Helo-Aquatic Rescue Team (NC HART). The team uses emergency workers and pilots from the Highway Patrol and National Guard.
One at a time, each firefighter was lowered to the water to rig a harness that attached a kayaker to the rope. Then the helicopter carried the suspended firefighter-kayaker pair to a nearby landing zone.
“The first guy we flew back, he seemed pretty relaxed,” Adams said. “The second victim we pulled off the rock, he really didn’t want to fly. I explained to him it was either stay there or fly with me. So he chose to fly with me.”
The kayakers, men in their 20s who were not identified, were not injured.
Gov. Pat McCrory issued a press release Monday praising the team for the rescue.
“NC HART is an excellent example of our state’s first responders and military joining forces to save lives in North Carolina,” McCrory said.