Teen tubers rescued from White River in Royalton

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/22/2021 7:49:02 PM
Modified: 7/22/2021 7:49:10 PM

ROYALTON — Four young teens who were tubing on a fast-moving White River on Thursday afternoon were rescued after they became hung up on a downed tree and lost their inner tubes, authorities said.

The tubers, part of a group of about 20 people floating down the river, ran into trouble on the White River near Pinch Rock, north of South Royalton village, around 1:15 p.m., according to South Royalton Fire Department Chief Paul Brock.

“The water was high from all the rain we’ve had, and pretty swift, and it really wasn’t a good situation,” he said.

Members of Brock’s department, along with volunteers from the Bethel and Barnard fire departments, are part of the White River Water Rescue Team and responded to the scene. A rescue boat from the Barnard department entered the river upstream from the tubers, while other first responders talked to the teens from the riverbank.

“We were able to get in there and pick them out of the trees and get them to safety,” said Brock, who added that the teens were from the area. He declined to release their names, citing their ages.

Most of the tubers were wearing life preservers, he said. Two were taken to the hospital as a precaution, but no injuries were reported.

Officials in the Twin States have warned of the dangers of fast-moving rivers because of the heavy rain in the past month. The Lebanon area has seen 8.4 inches of rain in July, three times the normal level.

“The river can be pretty challenging when it rises to the level it is right now,” Brock said.

The South Royalton Rescue Squad, on its Facebook page, posted a warning that read, “The recent rains have dramatically changed water levels and currents in our rivers and favorite swimming holes. Wear a life vest and recreate with a buddy!”

Brock said members of the White River Water Rescue Team also responded to Bridgewater on Wednesday evening after a kayak was found in the Ottauquechee River. Vermont State Police said in a news release that there had been no reports of a missing kayaker, and it was possible the kayak might have been washed away due to the high water from the recent heavy rain.

The two Upper Valley incidents follow the rescue of another group of tubers on the Merrimack River in Concord earlier this week. The capital city’s fire department was called to rescue three people around 6:50 p.m. Tuesday evening. Each of the three was on an inner tube, and the group found themselves unable to reach an area of the shoreline where they could safely exit the river, Concord fire officials said.

They were located without life vests, clinging to a tree, trying not to be swept further down the river. Firefighters pulled them into a boat and unloaded them on shore.

The Concord rescue also prompted a similar warning from rescue personnel: Recent heavy rains mean high, fast-moving waters in the region’s rivers.

Material from the Concord Monitor was used in his report. John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com.

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