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Empty Canoe Triggers Search And Rescue

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An empty canoe triggered a full force of search and rescue teams in Sioux Falls Tuesday.

Dozens of officials rushed to Cherry Rock Park after concerns someone may have drowned.

The false alarm allowed first responders some real-life practice.

 Officials said the call came in around 9:45 Tuesday morning and the search and rescue lasted about an hour.

The canoe was recovered along the river at 14th and Cliff around 10:45 a.m.

Police said the occupants left the canoe unattended and someone pushed it into the water.

Sergeant David Huntimer with the Sioux Falls Police Department said officials took action right away.

“With something like this, you can't just take face value, some of the water levels are high in areas and some are not so obviously we have to come out and make sure that everybody is safe and accounted for," said Huntimer.

Huntimer said the fire department were the first officials to respond to the scene ready and prepared.

"They're on scene right away, they have locations where they know they're going to drop boats in at different locations and start immediately checking the river and the water ways," said Huntimer.

Battalion Chief Travis Thom said his firefighters are trained for this kind of rescue.

“I had two boats, one was in the river, the other was getting ready to put in the river when we had everyone accounted for," said Thom.

Apart from the training and preparation, officials said rescues like this, are not simple.

“It’s very manpower extensive because to get all the boats where they need to be, get the guys that actually work the boats, get the guys along the river," said Huntimer.

Both Huntimer and Thom said the public should follow safety protocols in place.

“Use the boating practices given by the game fishing parks every year," said Thom.

"Canoeing and using the water way and the park system is great, especially this time of year, the weather is wonderful and we encourage people to do it, just make sure they're doing it safe. Always wear a life vest, always keep track of where your equipment is and always let people know where you’re at," said Huntimer.

Following safety efforts could have prevented this canoe from floating freely.

About 20 firefighters and several police officers were on the scene at the time of the rescue.
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