PELLA — The kayakers involved in a deadly incident Saturday at the South Tailwater area below the Red Rock Dam have been identified.
Timothy Chicoine, 61, of Des Moines, was pronounced dead at Pella Regional Health Center. Kevin Beatty, 56, of Tracy, rescued from the outflow zone, was treated at Pella Regional for hypothermia and released.
The kayakers got into trouble where the Des Moines River spills southeast from the dam. The Sheriff’s Office was notified shortly after 11 a.m. of two capsized kayaks. Marion County Sheriff Jason Sandholdt said Saturday night that he was among the first to respond to the call, but that Chicoine already had succumbed to the current by that time. Beatty was clinging to the kayaks as rescuers threw ropes to him.
The response involved many people throwing rescue lines to Beatty, including area fishermen, workers from Ames Construction, sheriff’s deputies, Pella Ambulance personnel and firefighters from Knoxville Fire and Rescue and Knoxville Rural Fire Department.
The Army Corp of Engineers shut off the dam gates, which made things easier for Beatty and his rescuers, Sandholdt said.
“It was taking a lot of people to help pull him out, but after that, there was less current to fight,” Sandholdt said.
Sandholdt donned cold-water gear and joined three Pella firefighters in a rescue boat. He helped two of them pull Beatty aboard and transport him down to the Howell Station boat ramp, where a Pella ambulance stood ready. Beatty, suffering from hypothermia, was transported to Pella Regional where medical staff was able to raise his core body temperature, Sandholdt said.
The warmth of the early January day, with temperatures rising into the 50s, belied the chill of the Des Moines River.
“I don’t know what the water temperature was out there,” Sandholdt said, “but I was a wetsuit and it was still definitely cold.”
Sandholdt commended the quick response and cooperation among first responders and private citizens.
“If it wasn’t for the effort of multiple individuals and agencies, both individuals could have lost their lives this morning,” Sheriff Jason Sandholdt said. “We are thankful we were able to get one of the individuals out of the deadly situation, but nothing will ease the pain of losing the other individual.
“I wish we could've got the other guy."
Members of the state Department of Natural Resources also helped with the rescue, a sheriff’s office news release said.