Bystander rescues mother, child after tube capsizes in rapids of western North Carolina mountain river

JACKSON COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A mother and young child were rescued after their tube capsized in a North Carolina mountain river.

It happened Friday at Prudential Rock, a high Class II rapid on the Tuckasegee River.

Barry Kennon was snapping photos of people rafting, kayaking and tubing nearby when he witnessed a mother and daughter pop out of their tube.

A world champion canoeist, Kennon quickly jumped into action.

"The woman did not have a life vest on. The baby did," Kennon told WLOS."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."

They all made it safely to the riverbank.

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

Recent rains have caused the river levels to be high.

"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 bottom line is wear your life vest, No. 1."

The harrowing experience serves as a reminder for those headed out on the water for the holiday weekend.

"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," Fowlkes 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.
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