Call for help late Tuesday near French River Bridge

OXFORD — A pair of kayakers are uninjured after a New Year’s Day excursion on the French River turned into a call for help.

At 4:43 p.m. on Tuesday, local first responders were dispatched to the French River Bridge in the area of 80 Harwood Street, according to a press release issued by Oxford Fire-EMS Acting Chief Jon Belanger. The two individuals, whose identities were not divulged, had been kayaking when they capsized. The initial reports indicated the two kayakers were not injured but were “requesting assistance to get them out of the woods.”

Belanger said a police officer from the Oxford Police Department was the first to respond to the call, and “located the individuals within minutes of his arriving.” The two kayakers were approximately one mile into the woods from the roadway through wet and overgrown terrain, according to Belanger. “Oxford Fire-EMS personnel arrived at the site and began to cut through a large thicket with chainsaws” in an effort to reach the kayakers, with first responders making physical contact with the parties at 5:35 p.m.

During these efforts, the District 7 Dive Team was requested “as an alternate plan to remove the parties via the swift moving water if needed.” This call for aid was noted by District 7’s Twitter account at 5:25 p.m., noting it had been “activated to the Town of #Oxford for a swift water rescue on the French River.” With the two kayakers reached shortly after, the dive team was no longer necessary, as noted in a Tweet by the Auburn Fire Rescue Department at 5:40 p.m.: “Oxford Command reports the victim has been removed from the water. Fire District 7 Dive Team has been cancelled.”

The two kayakers were evaluated on scene and refused medical attention. Belanger said all resources and personnel cleared the scene at 6:06 p.m. without incident.

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