Moore County man grateful to be alive after hours-long river rescue

MOORE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Moore County man is grateful to be alive after an hours-long rescue along the Deep River.

Rescue crews in the Sandhills had a busy weekend. Around 9 p.m., multiple agencies in Harnett County responded to the Cape Fear River to help find a man whose canoe capsized.

That rescue happened within 15 minutes but a rescue one county over at Deep River took hours.
"I was erratic. I was very scared very upset," said Lynn Hollyfield.

Hollyfield's husband, Kevin Ussery, had taken three of his friend's kayaking when they started to hit rough waters.

"They got scared at the rapids and they had never been before got scared and panicked, said I'm not doing this anymore and jumped out," Hollyfield said.

Desperate to save his kayaks, Ussery jumped out. But he was later forced to cling to them in order to save himself.

"But every time I would go over a rapid, the three behind me would fill up with water," Ussery said.

Meanwhile on the banks, first responders staged their rescue resources as Kevin's wife prepared for the worst.

"I didn't think I was going to see him again," Hollyfield said.

Hours went by, but by 1 a.m., State Highway Patrol choppers found the exhausted father of five, suffering from hypothermia, nearly 22 miles from where he first went missing.

"When I seen the helicopter circling around me I knew they were coming to get me," Ussery said.

Tonight Kevin is grateful to be alive, thanking everyone who played their part.

"Fire department, troopers, everybody that helped," he said.

Ussery gave a special thanks to Moore County Deputy Austin Hubbard, who he says attended to him and his wife once he was rescued. Meanwhile he's urging all boaters and swimmers to be cautious when using the river.

"It's really bad in spots where all the water is raised up from the hurricane and all that rain we had. We have big piles of trash and the snakes are really bad," Ussery said.
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