Incident report from Cheryl Thompson

On Tuesday June 13th, the BVPC located and assisted 911 and five local search teams in the rescue and recovery of a 51 year old woman who was lost in the area of the river.

When we first arrived at the put-in for the Nipmuc River in Harrisville, we were approached by an officer. He asked us to keep an eye out along the river for a lost 51 year old woman who went missing at 9:30 that morning. She lived in the area but it was odd that she left the house that morning leaving her phone and her shoes behind.  ATVs, a drone and K-9 unit had been searching the area earlier.

We had a great trip down river with our Blackstone Valley Paddle Club leaders and members. Steve R., Tom and Dave took turns pulling everyone over the many beaver dams. It was on the return trip that Julie heard a faint call for help coming from the river bank.We had been keeping our eyes and ears open on the trip for the lost woman. It was hard to pinpoint her, so Steve R. got out and started searching in the underbrush. We continued to paddle, moving closer to the area where we could hear her. We found her location up on a slippery river bank in the thick brush with briars and poison ivy. She was partially lying down in a very awkward position against a tree, but could not been seen from the river.

Patrick jumped out of his boat to assist the woman and was joined by Julie, Tom and Steve N., Tom held her head out of the mud, poison ivy and briars. Manny called 911 and several of the local fire and rescues were dispatched to our location using Manny's phone signal and GPS coordinates that Steve N. had provided. We had our radios so we could communicate between ourselves.

Manny stayed on the phone the entire time with the rescuers. We used our whistles to help narrow down the area where we were for the rescuers to find us. Joan held her paddle up high so we could be seen.

Cheryl asked the group for spare dry clothing. Cathy and Cheryl provided shirts to help warm the very wet and now hypothermic woman. She was having a medical emergency and seizing. Very shortly after calling out for help, she became unresponsive. It was now a half hour before sunset.

When rescuers arrived on the scene it was determined that the best way to transport her back was to use one of our kayaks. Patrick offered up his sit on top so she could lay down and be escorted down the river toward the put in. The rescuers waded in the river holding onto the sit-on- top. A police officer got a ride back on Phil’s 10 foot boat with both of them sitting on top of the small boat. Tom got out of his boat to help the two navigate the broken beaver dam along with some other paddlers.

During all of this there was a fire and rescue team on land. They found us on the river about a mile from the put in. The victim, along with the sit-on-top, were lifted up out of the water and onto the bank and then carried through the woods into the ambulance and taken to the hospital.

Since Patrick had given up his boat for the missing woman, Julie gave Patrick her boat to paddle back with. Cheryl gave Julie her PFD, Julie's was being used to support the victim's head on the journey back. Julie hung onto the back of Manny’s boat kicking her feet to help for the half mile trek back to the put in.  We all got back safely.  Steve drove to the nearby fire station and retrieved Patrick’s kayak. We hear the woman is recovering and is expected to be okay.

What a great group of leaders and members. We had 14 paddlers on this trip and they are all heroes!   


Pictures - not all the pictures are being shown due to privacy concerns.

A special thank you to the paddlers who were part of the Nipmuck rescue having located a lost and injured young woman! Recognition and citations were presented by the Harrisville Fire Chief and BVPC President, Cheryl Thompson.

Photo By Deb Isabel

A note of gratitude from the Executive Director of the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor:

"Good Morning Cheryl,
"The incident report from last night's paddle was just shared with me. I want to officially commend all of the members of the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club that participated with the assistance and rescue of the woman from the banks of the Nipmuc River in Burrillville. This is in keeping with the highest caliber of the NPS Volunteers-in-Parks program.
On behalf of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor and National Historical Park, thank you.
Devon Kurtz
Devon Kurtz
Executive Director"


(The BVPC assisted local search teams in the successful rescue and recovery of a missing woman. Incident report.)



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