by Mitchell Kirk
A dip in the Eel River almost turned deadly for two Logansport brothers Saturday after the current dragged them to the edge of a dam, where they held on until rescue workers arrived.
Members of the Logansport Fire Department and Logansport Police Department were dispatched to Riverside Park at around 2:45 p.m. Saturday to rescue Dave Hellyer, 20, and his brother, Charles Hellyer, 15, both of Logansport, who were swimming in the Eel River before getting caught up in the undertow. Unable to swim against it, they planted themselves just before the edge of a dam that crosses the river near the park’s pumping station.
Upon their arrival, Logansport firefighters took to a rescue boat and with the aid of a lifesaver, pulled each swimmer to shore.
“The current is a lot stronger than what it looks,” said Assistant Fire Chief Rick Bair, who was at the scene. “The undertow got them about 2 feet from the dam. We always stress to people the water is moving, even if it doesn’t look like it’s moving. You can’t see the undertow.”
Bair went on to say the Hellyers were very fortunate they didn’t get dragged over the dam.
“If they got sucked in, they’re not coming back out, not until the bridge.”
Dave and Charles Hellyer were examined by paramedics in an ambulance at the scene before being released.
“We were just trying to cool off,” Dave said. “The current took us.”
“The wet ground slipped out from under our feet and we got stuck,” said Charles, adding they started shouting at a truck driving by the pumping station when they realized they couldn’t swim back to shore.
The driver of the truck was Randy Myers, of Kokomo, who called 911 after seeing Dave and Charles out in the middle of the river.
Myers said he was at the park checking out the boat ramps in preparation for a kayak trip when he noticed the Hellyers. He said he at first didn’t realize anyone was in any danger.
“I just saw them out there so I asked them, ‘How deep is that water?’” Myers said, to which he recalled Dave and Charles responded by shouting for him to call 911.
“It’s crazy,” Myers said. “I never would have even been out here if it wasn’t for this kayaking trip. God works in mysterious ways.”
According to the National Weather Service, the Eel River rose from 4 feet to 7.5 feet between Friday and Saturday after remaining at close to 4 feet for the last 10 days.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.