Dramatic Rescue on Concho River Makes History in Chihuahua - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Dramatic Rescue on Concho River Makes History in Chihuahua

By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

OJINAGA - A dramatic rescue on the Concho River, southwest of Presidio is where a kayaking trip took a dangerous turn.

There are usually 15 to 20 excursions a year on the river but this particular trip made history.

We are now hearing from those involved in this heroic rescue that happened on September 14. Rescue crews and experienced kakayers say all the right elements fell into place that day to make this rescue successful.

"The people that were rafting at that time, they didn't have any experience kayaking. They weren't familiar with the canyon. They had some experience and took the right precautions but unfortunately we didn't know they weren't familiar with the canyon," Tour guide for "Aventura Pegüis", Ramón Valles, said.

Firefighters, The Red Cross of Chihuahua and Ojinaga, the Department of Public Safety and many others responded. The waters were especially strong due to recent rains, causing one kayaker to drown.

"We learned that four people entered the canyon, including one that lost his life, and that there were three more who needed to be rescued," Director of Public Safety, Francisco Palma, said.

Thankfully, the others could swim to shore. One, however, remained trapped down in the canyon. He couldn't climb to where the others made it to safety. Rescue crews tried to use a small boat to rescue but no luck.

Emergency personnel then took a gamble. They called for a helicopter from another city that coincidentally was readily available.

"The helicopter was available, we had the number of the right person to call and ask for help, the authorities weren't sure if they were going to get a helicopter because it would be from another city far away," Valles said.

But the rescue didn't come easily.

"It's about 650 feet to get to the bottom of the canyon. So on a windy day and with a width of about 80 to 100 feet in the canyon, this was nothing short of a heroic act by the captain," Valles said.

The remaining kayaker was pulled to safety in a rescue that made history in Chihuahua.

"We have never done this before, never with a helicopter. Every time, they were able to retrieve people who drowned, but never from inside the canyon," Palma said.

Powered by Frankly