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.