Missing Indiana kayakers, two men and one pregnant woman, found safe on riverbank

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) snapshot of the location of the missing kayakers.

WAYNE COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Indiana Conservation Officers recovered a group of kayakers reported missing on the Whitewater River in Wayne County early Sunday morning.

The kayakers started in Richmond, Indiana, on Saturday afternoon and consisted of two men and one woman who is 8 months pregnant. A concerned family member reported the group missing around 1:30 a.m.

According to DNR Officer John Gano, the group ventured out without proper light sources on their kayaks. Indiana Kayak Laws require “a white light visible 360 degrees for 2 miles” on all kayaks and canoes. This is especially important when river levels are high due to heavy rain. Sometime before dark, the group capsized and became stranded in the remote area.

Using GPS coordinates collected from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), commonly referred to as a drone, DNR officers aided by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department located the group around 5:30 a.m. They were found unharmed.

“The group was found huddled together around a fire they built on the riverbank overnight,” said Officer Gano, “It was smart thinking of them to stay put and stay together. If you find yourself in a situation like this and you believe someone will come looking, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do.”

Officer Gano credits the use of the UAV for locating the group quickly and efficiently. The UVA has a thermal sensor that was able to locate the kayakers in the dark. With very little early-morning light and the dense forest surrounding the area, finding the group on foot would have proven difficult and time-consuming.

Indiana Conservation Officers would like to remind paddlers of the importance of scouting their route, filing a float plan with friends and relatives, and always wearing personal flotation devices when on moving water.

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