BIBB COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Two people were rescued after their canoe capsized on the Cahaba River on Saturday morning, plunging them into cold and fast-moving currents as they clung to a rock for hours awaiting help.

That area is a popular canoeing site and swimming hole for families and nature enthusiasts, but the river’s speed can change in an instant. The canoers did not suffer any injuries.

“With all the rain and storms that we’ve had recently, the Cahaba [River] will flood. It will rise, and it was up a little higher than it was supposed to be and moving a lot swifter. They got in a current over the rock shelf, and it caused [the canoe] to flip over,” said Mischa Creel, a volunteer firefighter with West Blocton Fire and Rescue.

A number of law enforcement agencies in the area responded, including the West Blocton fire and police departments, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Department, Brierfield Fire, Calera Swift Water Rescue, AM-Serv EMS, and ALEA, who brought a helicopter.

But a civilian Good Samaritan also rushed to join in, bringing a special kind of watercraft.      

“A great guy to have around in Bibb County,” Creel said.

Rick LeCroy, a former longtime game warden, came to help with his hovercraft. Because the hovercraft actually flies about eight inches above the water, he could better navigate the treacherous terrain and currents.

“The water was too rough on the boat that was out there, so they called him in and he was able to get [the canoers] out,” Creel said.

“Even when [the river is] down like this, it can get you if you’re not careful … It really doesn’t care what your social status is, if you mess up, it may get you,” LeCroy said.

Thanks to his unique experience, LeCroy added he’s often called by area law enforcement to help out in rescues. Even though it can be challenging, he feels it’s still his duty to come when he’s called.

“I think the Lord has given me a skill, and He expects me to use it,” LeCroy said.

He also offered some safety tips to keep in mind before heading out in the water.

  • Always go during the day
  • Know the weather and water conditions
  • Never go alone
  • Make sure someone knows when you’ll be back
  • Always wear a safety vest