Archive for Friday, March 19, 2010

Two missing boys found after two-hour search of Wakarusa River

Both unharmed after canoe became swamped

Two juveniles who had been canoeing on the Wakarusa River Thursday were believed to be stranded. Crews searched for hours before locating the two.

March 19, 2010, 12:00 a.m. Updated March 19, 2010, 11:38 a.m.


Two missing on Wakarusa River discuss experience

The two boys who went missing for two hours Thursday night after leaving on a canoe trip down the Wakarusa River tell about how they became lost and how they found help. Enlarge video

Wakarusa River

Emergency crews from Douglas County spent about two hours Thursday night searching the Wakarusa River south of Lawrence for two missing boys.

The pair were found along the south bank of the Wakarusa River near the intersection of East 1600 Road and North 1250 Road shortly before midnight. East 1600 Road is commonly referred to as O’Connell Youth Ranch Road.

According to Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Lewis, a Eudora man had dropped his son and his nephew off at the Clinton Lake spillway about 9 a.m. Thursday. The two planned to canoe down the river for the day, ending their trip in Eudora, where the Wakarusa meets the Kansas River.

Lewis said the father remained in contact with the boys via phone throughout the day until about 7 p.m. He was then unable to reach the two and became nervous and called for assistance from local authorities.

The incident prompted officials — including sheriff's officers and Douglas County Fire and Medical crews — to begin a search that stretched from Eudora to the spillway below Clinton Lake Dam. Multiple crews with searchlights launched boats into the water along the river near U.S. Highway 59, south of Louisiana Street and in Eudora.

Two Wakarusa Township firefighters were looking for a place to launch another boat when they found the boys on the river's south bank. The two boys said their canoe had become swamped and the phone they had been using throughout the day had died. Apparently, they became disoriented, but then saw rescuers’ flashing lights. Crews reunited the boys with their parents shortly after 12:30 a.m. Friday.

Family members said they planned to head back to the river on Friday, to find the canoe.

No injuries were suffered during the ordeal.


MrMosmo 8 years, 3 months ago

Prayers and thought go out to those missing and their families. I must say though very disappointed in the LJW and the apparent lack of interest in this story. It was retweeted about an hour ago by the LJW and they are just now posting very few details about the story on the LJW site. I realize it was an important game and all but seriously someone should have taken five minutes when it was obvious that we were going to win and posted something. WOW way to keep perspective.

Jonathan Kealing 8 years, 3 months ago


We were trying to track down information so we weren't just reporting rumors. We've been on this since 10 p.m. and it's just been hard to get information on. We've got three people on it right now.

Jonathan Kealing Online editor

MrMosmo 8 years, 3 months ago

Sooooooo You have no problems retweeting rumors but won't post it on the LJW site, that is good to know for the future.

Jonathan Kealing 8 years, 3 months ago

That's actually fairly accurate. On Twitter, we're just sharing the reports from others. When we're posting something of our own or posting to our Web site, we're looking for our own information.

Confrontation 8 years, 3 months ago

I feel sorry for Jonathan and the other LJ World staff members who have to waste their time explaining themselves to a bunch of jerks. Keep up the good work, LJW!

Dirtman24 8 years, 3 months ago

I am sitting here listening to my police scanner and normally they talk allot when searching and they are not really saying much either. Keep up the good work JK as its not easy when they say less........

Joe Hyde 8 years, 3 months ago

I hope these youngsters are "overdue" and not in trouble out on the river. It's possible their anticipated time of takeout got delayed. Maybe they encountered a dense, cross-channel tangle of driftwood. Such navigation hazards are sometimes encountered on the Wakarusa; I've seen many logjams that extend unbroken from one bank clear across the river to the opposite bank. Totally impenetrable.

Come upon one of these logjams and the only way to get past it is to drag your boat out of the river, haul it up the bank then drag it to a point downstream of the snag, re-launch and proceed. It takes time and a lot of physical effort to do one of these logjam pull-arounds (the banks of the Wakarusa are generally steep, making the drag-out difficult).

If this is what happened and they got stranded by loss of daylight, and if they had with them some basic emergency gear such as matches or a lighter, they can easily scour the riverbank and scrounge up more than enough driftwood and deadfall wood to build a fire that'll keep them warm through the night. If it comes to that.

I just hope they're okay.

mr_right_wing 8 years, 3 months ago

Almost everyone is an expert from their own living room. There are some sitting around right now telling anyone who will listen exactly what Bill Self did wrong, and how they'd coach so much better.

MrMosmo is an example of an 'armchair editor'. Sir, spend less attention to your computer screen and more attention to folks outside pumping their gas, the drunks that might be shoplifting and keep an eye on your stock of 44oz fountain cups at your QuickTrip.

riverdrifter 8 years, 3 months ago

"Almost everyone is an expert from their own living room."

'Cept Joe knows what he's talking about.

So where'd they come out at, Joe? Blue Jacket Crossing or where?

tubs_of_love 8 years, 3 months ago

Not too sure if this is accurate, but don't snakes like to spawn in the spill way? Scary.

Glenda Susie Breese 8 years, 3 months ago

Congrats to sheriffs department and fire and medical , job well done.So glad all is well with the teenagers.

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 3 months ago

"And parents in the mirror next week thinking.."Those gray hairs are new, aren't they?" " I laughed out loud at this comment. (no fake "lol") Nice going Multi. This goes for a heck of a lot more than just canoeing. As a mother of four I can't tell you how many times I have breathed that particular sigh of relief, starting when my eldest admitted at the age of 18 she had gone "cow tipping". (Anybody who has grown up on a farm knows that waking up strange cows in the middle of the night is a VERY dangerous thing to do.)

crazyredneckmomma4 8 years, 3 months ago

why would you let 2 kids canoe down the Waky? That river is dangerous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Aramib 8 years, 3 months ago

A VERY BIG THANK YOU!!! to All the Fire and Medical, Police Officers, Volunteers...and Everyone else who helped or Supported to find "My Boys". Our Family and Friends are Grateful this all ended happily as we know it could have been a tragedy. Big Lesson Learned on our part...Only "Rednecks" would let their 2 kids canoe down a 'dangerousRiver' thinking the kids would have a Fun time fishing and spending time together, with life jackets, phones, food, water. Again a HUGE, BIG, THANK YOU to those who HELPED. You will Always be remembered- In Heart and Mind.

sherbert 8 years, 3 months ago

I was also wondering what their ages are, and are there any laws/restrictions about going out on the river? It's a little different than a lake.

Joe Hyde 8 years, 3 months ago

A good job was done by the search crew who found the youngsters. Also, a very good job done by Mr. Lewis, for calling the authorities so fast after he lost telephone contact with the kids. That call gave the searchers some important lead time.

Kids who grow up in Eudora have a big advantage (I would call it that) by living close to two good rivers -- the Kansas and the Wakarusa. The youthful urge to explore those rivers, both from afoot and by boat, must be overwhelming to many Eudora kids. Sounds like it was to these two. I hope for their sake that an accident like this so early in their careers will offer important lessons that encourage them to study and learn more about river canoeing.

Except for the very cold water (which no one ever plans to fall into), river conditions and weather conditions yesterday were favorable for doing a canoe ride down the Wakarusa. Only 7 cubic feet per second of water was being released from Clinton Dam, and only 45 cfs was flowing under the US 59 Highway bridge. Very slow current speed, plus it was a sunny, warm spring day. If the boys were fishing and they took along some cut shad or shad gizzards for bait, it would have been an excellent day to catch channel catfish.

At such a low river level it's easy for first-time floaters to under-estimate how long it takes to paddle a canoe from that ledge drop (a quarter mile below Clinton Dam) all the way down to Eudora. That river section runs over 20 miles, and that makes for a long day especially at such a low river level.

But I know zero about the prior paddling experience of these kids, where their planned takeout point was, how fast they were paddling downriver, or what kind of navigation obstacles they encountered. So for all us outside observers breathing a sigh of relief today, there's little to be gained by speculating what they could have done to avoid swamping their boat.

Whatever little thing it was, twenty bucks says they've already talked it over and figured out how not to let it happen again.

think_about_it 8 years, 3 months ago

The Wakarusa River is not a public access river. Only the Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas rivers are navigable in this state. These kids are being taught to trespass.

Aramib 8 years, 3 months ago

The "Young Men" are in their teens and have had prior canoeing experience. When Mistakes are made their is always a woulda- shoulda -coulda....definetly ALOT learned and Again Thank All who Helped, and the many comments of judgement or advice. WOW!

Aramib 8 years, 3 months ago

If the Wakarusa is not a public access river why is there a boat ramp in Eudora off of main street? The boys misjudged where they were when the phone dropped into the river and became very confused. They have a good amount of camping and canoeing experience for being 14, and once they realized they were lost they turned the canoe over, made shelter and started a fire. Later they saw some flashlights and headed upstream to make contact and that was that. They were very happy to have found help.

Tony Kisner 8 years, 3 months ago

Sounds to me like something boys this age should be doing. And it sounds like handled themselves just fine.

drake 8 years, 3 months ago

The boat ramp in Eudora is for Kansas River access. It is near the mouth of the Wakarusa.

mom_of_three 8 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, I would say Ziplock that phone next time. The kids did the right things, and it sounds like the dad did, too.
And I still think it is funny when the family or friends come on and criticize the comments. It takes a lot of different people to make the world go round and you will not agree with all of them. So don't read it to begin with.

pace 8 years, 3 months ago

LOL "someone should have taken five minutes when it was obvious that we were going to win and posted something. WOW " lol and if it was tight or we were losing? Just for the record, this story was more important and more interesting to some rather we won the football game or not.

olmsted78 8 years, 3 months ago

there was a football game last night? where at?

glad to hear everyone is safe.....

garyr 8 years, 3 months ago

Seems like a similar plot to a movie I've seen...........Brokeback Mountain!

SofaKing 8 years, 3 months ago

Sounds like a really fun outing - a lot better than using the computer and texting all day at home, like my loafs do. Now when I was a kid, I played outdoors all day, no tv, tons of great adventures. Those were the days. Lots of great memories.

Hope they find the canoe!

ClaroAtaxia 8 years, 3 months ago

They put a map showing the location when it was pertinent to the story! Huzzah for visual aids!

Aramib 8 years, 3 months ago

Canoe Found. Boys are Safe. All is Well in our little World. No more Trespassing for them for awhile ... ;-o All Comments Welcome, and if Friends and Family don't like what's said we'll tell ya where to go. No Worries. And Another Thank You to All who Helped with the Search. Although I truly feel the words are never enough for all the Good Works You All do.

puddleglum 8 years, 3 months ago

here is a good idea: stay out of rivers. They move. No matter what boat you are in, you are at risk of drowning, doesn't matter if you can swim or not. Lakes are much safer.

Maureen 8 years, 3 months ago

I work with the missing and I am so glad to see there was fast response by the responders and these boys were recovered safely. When law enforcement hesitates the endangered missing die. So glad to see no hesitation in this case!

The faster awareness hits the internet the faster those that advocate for the missing can get the story across the world. Had this been an abduction situation the sooner the story and the pics can be picked up then lives can be saved.

mr_right_wing 8 years, 3 months ago

Pywacket - Thank you... You were correct, I was not referring to Joe.

budwhysir 8 years, 3 months ago


So your concern goes deep enough to complain about something and still say how your prayers are with those involved???? So, you would rather that LJW print misleading and inaccurate information just to please drama media chasers such as you???? So, in reading twitter you found more information than that on this site? Why not post your findings in one of your blogs. I love how drama media chasers complain about not getting all of the juicy misleading and inaccurate information right now right here right or wrong.... Give it a rest, go back to watching CNN repeat this hours late breaking story about Tiger Woods personal life

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