In case of emergency, dial 112 or 999 and ask for the Police

Callouts 2014

Monday, 20 October 2014 08:52

Injured kayaker sparks search in upper River Dart valley

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Injured kayaker sparks search in upper River Dart valley

At 21:34 on Sunday 19th October 2014 our volunteers were called to assist Devon and Cornwall Police in the search and rescue of 2 kayakers who were overdue whilst kayaking the Upper Dart Valley between Dartmeet and Newbridge.

Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton covers the popular kayaking stretch of the River Dart in the Upper Dart Valley between dartmeet and Newbridge

The group of kayakers had come to Devon for the day to kayak the popular stretch of the River Dart. Having already completed the section of river once, the group returned to Dartmeet for a second run. Unfortunately mid way through the route around 4pm, one of the team capsized and hit a rock under water with his shoulder taking the impact. He managed to right himself again and soon realised that although his injury wasn’t serious, it would inhibit him enough to make completing the route very difficult. The group decided to split up with one member staying with his injured colleague whilst the rest completed the route and raised the alarm when their colleagues didn’t make it back to the car at Dartmeet.

With little daylight remaining, negotiating the gorge on foot with no torches whilst carrying their kayaks and a shoulder injury, the pair decided to sit tight and wait for rescue.

We arrived on the scene around 10pm. Our Control vehicle was set up at Bel Tor Corner from which multiple field search teams, including a team of our Swiftwater rescue specialists, were deployed into the gorge at various points.

A team spokesman said “The missing kayakers were located beside the river below Lucky Tor fairly quickly and were a little cold. Our Search Manager directed teams to their position from both sides of the gorge to aid their evacuation. After a medical assessment, it was deemed that they were able to walk out with one of our search teams to a waiting ambulance at Venford Reservoir, whilst their kayaks were recovered by a separate team. Fortunately the injury to one of the pair didn’t require hospital treatment.”

Callout to search and rescue missing kayakers in the upper River Dart gorge

We can’t provide our service without the dedication of our volunteers as our Search manager acknowledged. “Many thanks to 29 of our volunteers who attended and finally made it back to their beds just after 2am in the morning ready for work on Monday.”

Although the kayakers did have some emergency supplies and a first aid kit with them, it would be a good idea when tackling this stretch of river to add a torch to the equipment list. The gorge is very difficult to negotiate due to the steep terrain and undergrowth, and if you have problems a good torch can help you find a safe path and also signal to rescuers.

Swiftwater Rescue Technician in action

A short video of one of our swift water rescue level 3 technicians in action in the River Dart during the callout.

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