STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – Crews responded to an emergency situation at the Mahoning River in Struthers near Cene Park Friday afternoon.
According to the Struthers Fire Department, four kayakers overturned in the river. Three were able to get to shore and call for help for the kayaker that was still stuck. Though their cell phone was wet, it worked for them to call 911.
The woman got hung up on some branches and then found her way to a makeshift place where she could sit in the river.
She needed help but had to wait patiently for her rescue.
“Had a little bit of trouble locating her. They couldn’t give us a good location, so we had people searching up and down the river in Struthers,” said Brian Stellato of Struthers Fire Department.
Once the fire department found her, they needed to pick the best point to reach her. When they did, they put a firefighter in a wetsuit to go out and start the rescue.
The firefighter performing the water rescue was former boxer Jake Giuriceo, who was sworn in as a firefighter back in 2017.
“We sent a guy out on a rope to reach her. He was able to assess her for injuries,” Stellato said.
The woman wasn’t hurt, but the rescue was just beginning.
A life vest was put on her and tied to a rope, but there was no easy way out.
They tried pulling them together but found out that caused drag and one person started to sink.
“That’s stuff I learned when I was a rescuer back in high school. You have to defend yourself against the person you’re rescuing a lot of times because they don’t know they’re doing it because they’re going to fight to stay above water, to do whatever they have to do,” Stellato said.
So, they changed the approach and were able to pull the woman in alone. It just took time, but it worked, and she reached shore, safe and sound.
Her friends were waiting, thankful that she was OK.
“Kayaking looks like it’s going to become a big thing. This could obviously become a issue for us, Youngstown, Lowellville, all the surrounding communities that have to deal with the river,” Stellato said.
The kayaks were never found after they went down river.
The cameraman who videoed the rescue, Nick Rich, it was the first water rescue he recorded from start to finish in 40 years covering local news.