June 24--One of two kayakers who went for a short trip along the Mississippi River on Monday afternoon needed some help from a Stearns County sheriff's deputy to get out of the rushing high water.
Emergency personnel were called to the Sauk Rapids Bridge at about 1:26 p.m. after a report of a kayaker in the water.
The St. Cloud Fire Department, Gold Cross Ambulance and police from several jurisdictions responded.
Anita Henningsgaard of St. Cloud and her fellow kayaker were wearing lifejackets when the current carried Henningsgaard into the path of a fallen tree on the west bank of the river just north of the bridge.
With the aid of a rope, a deputy and a St. Cloud firefighter helped Henningsgaard walk along the trunk of the tree to safety.
"We were coming along to a rougher part of the river, and I tried to get off to the side," said Henningsgaard, 21, who walked away on her own and didn't require first aid. "The tree got in the way, and (the kayak) went up and over."
The kayak remained in the river immediately after a sheriff's deputy took the two kayakers back to a canoe landing a few blocks north on Stearns County Road 1.
"I don't know what we're going to do about that," Henningsgaard said. "But I'm not concerned. Like the (rescue personnel) said: They're here to rescue people, not property."
Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner said his crews, responsible for the Mississippi River in the metro area, have been lucky through a series of rescues in the past few weeks.
"I can't stress strongly enough that people should stay out of the water until normal levels and current return," Sanner said. "So far, we've been fortunate. We've been able to rescue everyone. But that could change with the next call. You don't realize how dangerous it can be. There have been more incidents this year than I can remember. The conditions attract adrenalin junkies. But we're all but pleading with them to wait until the river calms down."
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