A Memphis woman was in the right place at the right time last week to aid a kayaker and her canine companion and avert a disaster.
Tammy Wheeler was helping a friend unload a boat at the boat dock near the Hotel Manning in Keosauqua, IA when they first spotted the kayak approaching the Main Street bridge over the river.
“The boat was still hooked up and he was in it checking the motor,” said Wheeler. “We looked up and a kayak with a dog in the front was coming down river. She had passed under the bridge and was veering to our side of the river.
Wheeler’s companion noted he hoped the kayaker avoided the dock, as it could be very dangerous with the river’s high waters, producing a strong current along with high winds on the day.
“He was working on the motor, but I kept watching her,” said Wheeler. “The strong wind that day and the current, it pulled her quick straight into the front of the dock. I heard it hit and then didn’t see anything so I took off running.”
The Memphis nurse had made it about half way to the dock when she heard the screams coming from the overturned vessel.
“When I got there she was holding the bottom rail of the dock trying to keep from going under it,” said Wheeler.
She sprang into action, reaching over the railing to grab a hold of a loop in the boater’s life jacket.
“She started to panic and was screaming for me to help her get her dog,” said Wheeler. “She had a little part of a leash in her hands.”
That’s when Wheeler realized the dog had been swept under the dock.
After making sure the kayaker was secured to the dock safely, Wheeler was able to retrieve the leash and save the dog.
By that point, Wheeler’s companion had joined the rescue efforts and they were able to pull her up onto the dock.
Another boater on the river was able to help retrieve the overturned kayak.
“We got the woman and dog up on the bank, and we just talked for a little bit before we all departed,” said Wheeler. “I never even got her name. I think everyone was just in shock. I seriously believe that we were put in our spot at that same time for a reason. I just keep replaying what could have happen.”
Keosauqua, IA city alderman Charles Lazenby, who witnessed the incident, praised the quick actions of Wheeler, stating he believed she definitely saved the dog’s life, and possibly the kayaker’s as well.
“I don’t feel like I did anything anyone else wouldn’t do,” said Wheeler. “Just hoping everyone that kayaks the river is careful. The river is ruthless and has no mercy.”