Archive for Saturday, March 20, 2010

Teens’ canoe misadventure ends with ‘lucky night’ rescue

On Friday, Nick Board, 14, left, and J.R. Quaempts, 14, both of Eudora, find the canoe that they had been taking along the Wakarusa River from Clinton Lake to Eudora. As they were paddling down the river Thursday evening, they became stranded until emergency personnel found them around midnight.

On Friday, Nick Board, 14, left, and J.R. Quaempts, 14, both of Eudora, find the canoe that they had been taking along the Wakarusa River from Clinton Lake to Eudora. As they were paddling down the river Thursday evening, they became stranded until emergency personnel found them around midnight.

March 20, 2010


Eudora boys home safely after river ordeal

Two Eudora boys were safe at home Friday after a lengthy search of the Wakarusa River Thursday night. The two were canoeing when their boat was swamped and their phone was dropped in the water. Local agencies searched for the two for about five hours. Enlarge video

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

Every scenario possible ran through Travis Board’s head Thursday night when he lost cell phone contact with his son, Nick Board, 14, and nephew, J.R. Quaempts, 14.

The two boys had set out 10 hours earlier from the Clinton Lake spillway on a spring break canoe adventure down the Wakarusa River.

“We picked a day that was the nicest; the water was good on the Wakarusa,” Travis Board said. “They loaded up their fishing poles, and I talked to them every couple of hours … about 7 o’clock I told them to give me their GPS coordinates and as they pulled out, they dropped their phone in the water.”

From there, a massive five-hour search began. “First we had to get across a waterfall. That’s where I lost my jacket,” Nick said.

By late Thursday evening the boys were cold and tired — and had been soaked head to toe. They agreed their best strategy was to stay put and set up camp.

Shortly after they started a fire, the two spotted flashlights upstream and began flashing a camera toward the lights.

That proved enough of a signal for Wakarusa Township firefighters to see the boys.

“The water was down; it wasn’t up high or running really hard, so it was easy to hear,” said Allen Erber, a volunteer firefighter with Wakarusa Township Fire Department. “It was a lucky night for them and for us.”

The Eudora family spent Friday revisiting the site where the boys were found, near East 1750 Road in rural Douglas County. And Travis and J.R. were reunited with the two firefighters who located them.

“Being a father myself, it’s a big deal to know that your kid is out there alone,” said Charlie Biggerstaff, Wakarusa Township firefighter. “It’s just comforting to know that we laid eyes on them, to know that they’re OK, they’re talking to you, no injuries, that’s just a huge sigh of relief.”

Both Nick and J.R. are Boy Scouts — and they thought they were prepared for their canoe trip. The two packed plenty of food, water, proper clothing, GPS units and cell phones.

Next time, however, there might be a few changes.

“I wish we would have had some waterproof maps and some waterproof clothing,” J.R. said.


50YearResident 7 years, 7 months ago

How easy is it to get lost on a stream that has a bridge crossing every 1 mile? The farthest anyone would have to walk to safety is 1/2 mile.

zzgoeb 7 years, 7 months ago

We are all happy these boys were safe!!! The big question is, why were they left alone for a day? Yeah, it's only the Waki, and civilization is close by...but responsible adults would come along for a day in the water. Another question is, did they have PDFs(flotation vests)....Please be more careful and show your kids the right example for safe adventures.

LoneHawk1 7 years, 7 months ago

50YearResident (anonymous) says…

How easy is it to get lost on a stream that has a bridge crossing every 1 mile? The farthest anyone would have to walk to safety is 1/2 mile.

One of the first lessons Boy Scouts learn is to stay put if you get lost. Do not wander around, especially in the dark or around water. This is further reinforced in various merit badges, including Wilderness Survival. These young men followed their training and took the proper steps to ensure their safety. I commend them on using their skills to make it through this situation. Many things can happen, even in a 1/2 mile. All it takes is one misstep, a slip in to the river or fall from a ledge to make things worse. This could have easily turned from a rescue mission to a recovery mission had they done as you suggest.

lounger 7 years, 7 months ago

This adventure is the right season. March can be a S.O.B. and unpredictable.

Jay_Bird 7 years, 7 months ago

Glad the boys are safe. But LJW this is a terribly written story. Journalism 101, Who, What, When, Where. The what part seems to be void of pertinent details. Are we to assume that the simple act of the boys dropping a cell phone was the catalyst for a all out search and rescue mission. It was also reported that they had 2 cell phones, did both drop in the water? Did the canoe capsize? At 7:00pm with dusk approaching they had to be close to the end of their trip. Was there a prearranged pull-out point? So many unanswered questions, why even take the time to write and print such a feeble attempt at reporting the "news".

Jay_Bird 7 years, 7 months ago

A correction on my part, I am assuming they had at least 2 cell phones, since the article reports they had "cell phones". With the use of the plural "phones" meaning more than one.

imastinker 7 years, 7 months ago

The canoe also had to tip over since they were wet head to toe.

They sound like smart kids - it's good to see kids still doing stuff like this. At 14, a boy scout should have enough training to do this without the parents going along.

wakarusan 7 years, 7 months ago

I have kayaked and canoed the entire Wakarusa since I was a kid. I have swamped my boats so many times I have lost count, but that was completely foolish for 14yo's to be in a canoe this time of year with the water temp that cold. They are very lucky they did not get hypothermia or even worse, died. Hope a lesson has been learned.

50YearResident 7 years, 7 months ago

wakarusan, did you have any trouble navigating the waterfalls?

Aramib 7 years, 7 months ago

i agree with imastinker and you cant really know what its like unless you have been in that situation. I can assure you that they had 4 life jackets, a pocket knife with a flashlight, water and enough food for more than one day. Also they only had one phone because nicks brother took his phone that morning and wouldnt give it back. Also all of you hating on the parents, back off the kids have been on many canoe trips before but this was the first on the wakarusa so it was harder because they dont know whats next. Think of the agony they were going through while they were lost, if you have kids maybe you can understand.

greenworld 7 years, 7 months ago

Dont believe they are quite ready for the Kaw yet. Isnt the wakarusa only like 8-10 ft across. I fished in it for the last 20 years all up and down it and can say there are many spots you can walk to the nearest road. I had an experiance once fishing with an old fishing buddy that flipped over in his floattube checking his trotline. He ended up with a very large hook going through his hand. I cut the hook off his line and left it in his hand. I tried and tried once I got him a shore to cut the hook out of his hand and it was just to thick. He didnt want to go to ER as he was to embarrased and it was to late for any dr office but I was able to get ahold of my vet and he met us at his clinic and removed it safely. The moral of this story- Everybody has a story about the Waki. The experiance of a lifetime, try getting a 70 yr old guy flipped upside down with a hook in his hand out of the Waki.

mom_of_three 7 years, 7 months ago

aramib - this is a comment forum, and people are commenting. If you don't like it, then don't read it. But some of the comments are very applicable and don't seem too hateful at all. Just asking questions. But don't read it since you know you won't like.

imastinker 7 years, 7 months ago

Aramib - did the canoe tip then> What happened that they got all wet and the phone fell in the water?

Regardless of what folks here say, they did the right thing by staying put. They were wet when the temperature was dropping pretty fast, and lost their map. It was getting dark. I can't fault their decision to stay put. I looked at an map, and depending on where they were, it could be up to a several mile hike.

In the morning they would have had no trouble finding their canoe or a house to use the phone.

Next time, they should plan a better time of day. They should have been close to eudora by then, but they shoudl ahve started the trip at around 7AM to be there by supper time. Any problems could ahve been much more easily addressed with air temps higher and in daylight.

BMI 7 years, 7 months ago

This is the difference with the generations younger than mine. We knew to NEVER undertake any day's expedition without Lassie. Woof!

ralphralph 7 years, 7 months ago

Want 'em to learn? Send 'em the bill for the search. Let 'em work it off hauling trash out of the riverbed.

hooligan01 7 years, 7 months ago

Where abouts on the river is the "waterfall"?

JustNoticed 7 years, 7 months ago

They're fourteen. That's the kind of thing they should be doing.

Aramib 7 years, 7 months ago


bearded_gnome 7 years, 7 months ago

stay put, yep.

camp, yep.

build a fire yep!

don't panic absolutely!

these kids made very good choices. Kudos to the 14-YO kids!

as to the grownups commenting here: I'm so glad that T'Troll' et al never had any boyhood adventures. lived a totally anticeptic existence, probably in a bubble.

at age 14, it is time for the boys to have such adventures themselves. at age 10-11 I rode my horse to a lot of places, by myself.

Go kids! you rock!

Aramib 7 years, 7 months ago

I am the father and uncle to the boys that were stranded. Here is the missing info: The boys had canoed the Kansas half a dozen times, been snow camping and hunting several times. Should I have gone with them? Mabye, but I am not one to put diapers on teenagers so they went off on their own. Everything was going as planned, they were to meet us at the Eudora boat ramp, but I knew that two 14 year olds fishing all day long would probably not make it which is why getting their GPS position was our backup. They did have a water tight container for the phone, matches and other odds and ends but that doesn't help if while using the phone you drop it in the water. They were confused as to their position, they started second guessing themselves and thought they had passed the boat ramp in Eudora and were scared they would end up in the Kansas and be way off track. So they hunkered down for the night, ate some MRE's and lighted a fire. Did they make some mistakes? Sure...but thats part of growing up. Everyone parents the best they know how and I tend to let my kids get bumps and bruises so as to learn from life. We were worried about our kids but the weather and the water was in our favor which is why we chose that day. Anyhow, I love the comment section. I love seeing other peoples point of view.

GardenMomma 7 years, 7 months ago

Glad your kids are okay. Glad they knew enough to hunker down for the night with a fire.

50YearResident 7 years, 7 months ago

hooligan01, The waterfalls are right before the Trout Ladders, next to the Bear area.

zzgoeb 7 years, 7 months ago

Lots of comments about Scouts...the rule is "two-deep adult leadership"...and still no mention of PFDs for the boys. Read the manual...follow the rules...and leave the Scouts out of it until you do.

LoneHawk1 7 years, 7 months ago

zzgoeb (anonymous) says…

Lots of comments about Scouts...the rule is "two-deep adult leadership"...and still no mention of PFDs for the boys. Read the manual...follow the rules...and leave the Scouts out of it until you do.

No on ever said this was a Boy Scout outing. If it was, than you are correct, two deep leadership would have been required. This story is about two boys, who happen to be Boy Scouts, using their Scouting skills outside of Scouting. Teaching young men life skills that they can use in the real world is one of the main goals of the Scouting program. This situation is a perfect example of how to apply Scouting skills in a non-Scouting situation. So why do we need to leave Scouts out of it?

Aramib 7 years, 7 months ago

Just an FYI this log in acct. name refers to all Family and Friends of the Young Men involved. So what is that line on those shows "not all comments or beliefs reflect the whole of us" :) Sorry if anyone has been offended and we definetly have strong beliefs in the Scouting Program, no this was not an official boy scout outing. Yes alot was learned, thank goodness Our Guys are alive and well to put that learning to use. Thanks for all Comments...If anything they made us "think". We sure do live in an Awesome part of the country where there is so much diversity in thoughts (that's a good thing). Helps us all Learn and Grow Together, One more thing I would like to mention is that The Family and Friends of the Youth said many Prayers at the time of waiting....Needless to say because of the Good people who are in the profession of Helping Others, those prayers were answered. I could be sitting here right now writting an obituary rather than a comment. Anyhow Thank You All for your wise words, by now many of you know who we are and hopefully can understand we are human and make mistakes, this one will not be a repeat.

Tony Kisner 7 years, 7 months ago

Arabim - I think the boys did a great job. A day in a canoe is perfect for two guys who could obviously handle it.

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