Lost kayakers found overnight in Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park, working alongside the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Columbia Fire Department, Richland County EMS and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, successfully concluded a search for two lost kayakers that began late last night.
At approximately 8 p.m., Friday, a 911 call was received for two lost kayakers in the park. One kayaker with a cell phone reported that he and his partner had become separated and he was lost.
Emergency responders arrived at the park and promptly began to make their way to the individual’s last location. Contact was made with the first individual at approximately 1:30 a.m., and he was off the water by 3:45 a.m. The second kayaker did not have a cell phone and his location was not known by the first kayaker when he was rescued, making locating him a challenge in the dark. At that time, the decision was made to suspend the search for the other kayaker until morning.
As crews were preparing to begin the search this morning, the second kayaker arrived at the visitor center at 9:30 a.m., having spent the night out in the park, using his kayak as a shelter to retain body heat, before making his way towards the visitor center. Upon being checked by EMS personnel, he was released shortly thereafter.
Congaree National Park has been above or near flood stage since mid-November. When above flood stage, park waterways, especially Cedar Creek, are difficult to navigate for even experienced paddlers, with many side channels that can lead paddlers off the creek. When planning a paddling trip to Congaree, it is essential to check with park staff for the most up to date conditions of the creek. Paddlers should be prepared for portages and other obstacles. Always travel with a partner, and let someone at home know your plan and itinerary. Be prepared by carrying weather appropriate clothing, including rain gear, food, water, a first aid kit, a communications device, compass or GPS, and a light in the event that you are out after dark.
Park staff would like to thank our partners at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Columbia Fire Department, Richland County EMS, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for their assistance. Their efforts were essential to the positive outcome of this search and rescue.