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Kayaker knocked into water rescued by firefighters

KENNEDY — A man who was knocked out of his kayak and forced to cling to a tree branch for a half hour was rescued by firefighters Monday.

The incident, reported around 4 p.m., began after the unidentified man who was kayaking alone on Cassadaga Creek in the town of Poland was apparently struck by a low-hanging tree branch and knocked into the water.

Keith Bean, Kennedy fire chief, said the man clung to the branch and yelled for help for about a half hour until he was heard by a homeowner up the road from the creek.

“It’s just one of those things,” Bean told the newspaper. “He hit a tree and fell into the water. He’s lucky someone heard him.”

Firefighters were first summoned to Quaint Road for a report of a man down in the woods. Bean said once on scene, first responders found the man hanging onto the branch in the water.

It’s unknown if the kayaker had a life jacket with him; Bean said it didn’t appear the man was wearing one when he was located.

Two firefighters wearing wet suits walked in waist-deep water and secured the man. He was brought back to the road in an ATV and later transported to UPMC Chautauqua for treatment.

Bean said the man was unable to get out of the water himself due to exhaustion. He noted that navigating the creek was made more difficult due to recent flooding.

“He was just hanging onto the tree for a half an hour,” Bean said. “He lost his kayak a mile up the creek. … He lost a lot of energy, and by the time we got there, he was totally exhausted.”

“He’s really lucky someone heard him way up the road,” he continued. “It’s just one of those things that should be used to remind people to wear life preservers and to let people know where you will be.”

Crews were assisted Monday by Falconer and Frewsburg volunteer firefighters.

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