Kayaker rescued from Camas Slough

Man reportedly in the water for 30 minutes

By Craig Brown, Columbian Metro Editor and Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter



A kayaker was rescued Thursday from the Camas Slough after he overturned and spent about 30 minutes in the water.

The 59-year-old man, whose name was not released, was fishing from a kayak at the mouth of the Washougal River about 9 a.m. when he went overboard, according to Washougal-Camas Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Ervin.

“He hit some turbulent waters that knocked him over and out of his kayak,” Ervin said.

The man, who was not wearing a floatation device or a wet suit, clung to the overturned kayak as he floated for about mile, Ervin said.

A passer-by spotted him from the Lady Island bridge on state Highway 14 and called 911 at 9:11 a.m. An employee of Georgia-Pacific, however, had already spotted the man in the water and notified their emergency boat crew.

Todd Kuhnhausen, a Georgia-Pacific employee who is part of the company’s Mill Emergency Response Team, stayed on shore to direct the other members of his response team to the man.

“I made sure I kept an eye on the boater,” he said. “I was yelling to him to hold on, that help was coming.”

Kuhnhausen’s co-workers Mark Jester and Jeff Butterfield steered the boat to the man and pulled him aboard. They took him to a tug dock at the paper mill, where he was met by medical personnel, who took his vitals and warmed him, Ervin said.

The Department of Ecology measured temperatures of the Washougal River at Hathaway Park at 57 degrees Thursday morning.

The emergency crew at the paper mill is primarily used for safety and environmental responses, but they also train for water rescues.

“I think (the team) did a very good job getting the guy to safety,” Kuhnhausen said.

A boat from the Camas-Washougal Fire Department responded to assist with the rescue.

“Luckily, somebody saw him,” Ervin said. “This is a good ending.”

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