PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – Two men who were stranded in bad weather on a loose floating dock on the Ohio River near Parkersburg were rescued Tuesday, June 18, 2013, by two Natural Resources Police Officers with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR).
At about 11:30 a.m., the DNR District 6 Office in Parkersburg was notified by 911 that two individuals had been sighted on a run-away floating dock with no way to get back to shore. It was reported to be just north of Blennerhassett Island across from Belpre, Ohio. Recent weather had left the river high, muddy, and full of debris, which made a rescue attempt difficult and dangerous.
Capt. David Trader and Sgt. Chris McKnight launched one of the agency’s patrol boats and headed toward the sighting area, finding them near the tip of the Blennerhassett Island mid-channel of the river.
“At first we didn’t see anyone on the dock, but upon closer inspection we found two males huddled, wet and shivering, beneath a camouflaged tarp,” said Capt. Trader. “To add to the problem, we saw a barge approaching our location from the south. We quickly gave the men life jackets from our boat and told them to put them on.”
The two men were so fatigued that they had difficulty tying off the raft to the patrol boat and getting aboard, so Sgt. McKnight jumped over to the floating dock and provided assistance. With both men aboard and the floating dock secured to the patrol boat, they headed to the Belpre Civitan boat dock where the rescue was completed with the help of officers from the Belpre City Police Department.
The men, both from Maryland, were identified as Tyler Jennings, age 22, and Quinn Porter, age 21. Officers learned that the two men had removed the dock from the bank upriver on the Little Kanawha River and had plans to float down to the Mississippi River. Belpre police found drug paraphernalia among the men’s belongings but no charges have been filed at this time. WVDNR has issued citations for not having safety equipment (life jackets) to Porter and possession of fishing equipment without a fishing license to Jennings.
“Both men thanked us for rescuing them after they received their citations and were released,” Capt. Trader said. “Sgt. McKnight observed that if we had been a few minutes later we would have been recovering two bodies.”
“Capt. Trader and Sgt. McKnight are to be commended for their actions in this incident. This is an example of how our Natural Resources Police Officers willingly risk their lives to save others, even when boating conditions are hazardous,” said DNR Law Enforcement Section Chief David Murphy.
Curtis Taylor, Wildlife Resources Section Chief