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Bystander rescues mother, child after they capsize in NC river

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    JACKSON COUNTY, NC (WLOS ) — A mother and her young child were rescued after their inner tube capsized in a mountain river. It’s a harrowing experience. And the incident serves as a safety reminder for all headed out on the water this holiday weekend.

Mountain river levels are high right now because of recent rains. Water experts emphasize safety, the recent rescue of a mother and her young daughter driving that point home.

Prudential Rock is a high Class II rapid on the Tuckasegee River. Nearby, is the photo stand, where Barry Kennon snaps pictures of those rafting, kayaking and tubing as they float by.

Last week, a mother and her young daughter approached the rapids in a tube

“The woman did not have a life vest on. The baby did,” Kennon said.

Kennon said when they hit the Prudential Rock rapids, they popped out of the tube. The mother immediately yelled for help. Kennon, a world champion canoeist , jumped into action.

“I was able to hold onto the rope of the stern of my canoe, shove the canoe out into the water and she grabbed the front of the canoe and I pulled them back in,” he said.

They made it safely to the riverbank.

“They were fine. They were shivering, and I gave them a blanket,” Kennon said.

“Very lucky that Barry happened to be here. He’s a safety valve. His quick actions probably saved somebody’s life,” said Kennon’s friend, Sam Fowlkes, who chairs the American Canoe Association Safety and Rescue Committee.

The incident, he said, is a reminder to take safety precautions on the water.

“The bottom line is wear your life vest, No. 1,” Fowlkes said.

Know the water levels and don’t get in above your skill level, he added.

“Stay with your group, don’t lose sight of who you’re with, because there’s no eyes on you, not that many good things happen,” he said.

Kennon said many hit the river on their own without sturdy enough equipment. He said that appears to have happened in this case.

“She needs to get a whitewater-approved tube, which they rent at the raft companies,” Kennon said.

Kennon said the safety of young children is paramount.

“Don’t bring a 2-year-old on this river,” he said.

Fowlkes reminds people summer conditions can change quickly and to be aware of the weather, as well.

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