Kayaker rescued along Pigeon River; fundraiser launched

Local News

MONGO, Ind. (WANE) — The owner of Mongo River Run is stressing the importance of water safety after a kayaker went missing, Thursday night.

The owner, Tammy Scalzo, tells WANE 15 that rescuers were sent out after the woman’s kayaking partner returned to the dock without her around 10 p.m. July 4.

“She was out swimming on her own with no life jacket and left her boat,” said Scalzo. “We haven’t recovered our boat but it was her that mattered at that point.”

The Mongo Fire Department had to wait for the Stroh Fire Department to bring a rescue boat. Mongo Fire Chief Josh Watts said the time it takes to wait for a boat could be the difference between a rescue or recovering a body.

“It’s very challenging [without a boat] because we have so many miles of river that we have to cover,” said Watts. “We do have ATVs but to get back to the river from the shore is almost impossible in most areas.”

Once the boat arrived, rescuers found the woman sitting on the river bank just after midnight. It took about 30 minutes according to Watts. She appeared to be heavily intoxicated, the owner said.

In light of this incident and others, the company is teaming up with the Mongo Fire Department to raise money for a rescue boat.

“We feel the Mongo Fire Department needs their own rescue boat,” said Scalzo. “Together we are going to put on a fundraiser. Half of the proceeds will go to the fire department.”

The Mongo Fire Chief estimates a boat will cost around $7,500.

Mongo River Run will host a canoe trip. It will last an hour and a half. Canoes cost $40 and Kayaks cost $30. The event is scheduled for Aug. 18 at 4 p.m.

Walt and Scalzo also shared tips to help stay safe while in the water.

  • Always wear a life jacket
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages
  • Stay with your group
  • Get out of the water before dark
  • Don’t overload your boat
  • Be careful about putting children on the floor.
  • Keep your cell phone with you

The following message was posted to the Mongo River Run Facebook page early Friday morning.

Mongo River Run would like to thank the Mongo Fire Department, stroh with their water boat rescue and any law enforcement that help us retrieve a kayaker last night. Please keep in mind alcohol and water can make for a bad decision. There have been different situations throughout the last few years with private boats and canoe liveries where help is been needed. We will be working to put a fundraiser together in the near future. We will be paddling for a purpose. We Believe Mongo fire department needs its own water rescue. Will we be asking for all your help as we set the date. Once again thank you for a rescue and not a recovery!

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