DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A day spent kayaking on the Trinity River turned out very differently than Roger Couture expected.
“It’s a beast, like a murderous beast,” he said.
Couture and a friend were searching for their planned exit point, after a long Sunday afternoon navigating the river.
“I believed I still had a mile to go, when in fact I had passed it,” he said.
Suddenly, they found themselves at dusk plunging over the lock and dam just north of I-20.
“It seemed like a four to seven foot immediate drop, like a waterfall,” said Couture.
His friend tumbled in behind him.
“He took a straight nose dive into it, flipped over, turned over, lost a paddle, the kayak went downstream. He was trying not to drown,” said Couture.
His partner made it to the riverbank. Couture tried to cross, but became overwhelmed.
“I was like this high in the mud,” he said gesturing to his mid-chest. “There’s alligators, there’s (water) moccasins, and it felt like quicksand. It scared me.”
He wound up at ten o’clock at night, stuck on a sandbar dialing 911 from a cell phone he’d securely stored in a dry bag.
It was Dallas Air One, piloted by Dallas Police Senior Corporal Mark Colborn who found him.
“Here’s the thing. We don’t generally do rescues,” said Cpl. Colborn.
When Dallas Fire Rescue boats were unable to reach Couture because of low water levels upstream, though, Cpl. Colborn gave it a try.
“The only thing I was worried about was setting it down on the sandbar, whether the skids would sink into the mud or not,” he said.
Couture recalls a surreal scene seemingly ripped out from an action movie.
“It’s the middle of the night. The big flashlight’s on me. Sand’s blowing everywhere,” he said. “And, I’m thinking myself, are they actually landing?”
The spot where it landed, Couture says, was an unlevel patch of sand no wider than his arm span.
Now safe and dry, he is grateful and impressed by the dramatic rescue he never thought he’d need.
“Those guys are amazing – in both skill, competence… and heart,” he said.