A capsized kayaker on the Colorado River was rescued with the help of an off-duty New York State Park Police officer who was rafting with his friends near Moab on June 6.
New York State Park Police Officer Bryan Welcher said he was on leave and rafting Class III rapids on the Moab Daily section of the Colorado River when he saw a kayaker capsized farther up the river.
A 16-year veteran of the police force, Welcher said he and his friends then rowed across the river and intercepted the male kayaker, who had become unconscious in the 44-degree river water, before he floated past them.
Welcher said the kayaker became conscious as he was being lifted into their boat, but was reportedly “blue and in total shock ... could not say his name, didn’t know where he was or what had happened, and was vomiting,” a press release from police said.
With the victim on board, Welcher and his friends called 911 and successfully navigated the remaining section of rapids and arrived at the Rocky Rapid boat ramp.
Approximately 30 minutes later a Grand County deputy sheriff and a Grand County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) ambulance arrived to treat the kayaker, and he was transported to urgent care in Moab where he was treated for exposure and unknown injuries. The kayaker had been capsized in the water for 10-15 minutes, Welcher said.
Welcher is assigned to the Cayuga Lake Station of the New York State Park Police Mid-State District Finger Lakes Zone.