ARGONIA, Kan. – Five teenagers had to be rescued Saturday night when their raft capsized while traveling on the flooded Chikaskia River in southern Kansas.
Three firefighters attempting to reach the three girls and two boys also needed help when their rescue boat also flipped into the water churned up by days of heavy rain in southern and central Kansas. A fourth person also fell in during the rescue attempt.
James Fair, emergency management coordinator for Sumner County, said that all nine people were removed from the water by 12:30 a.m. Sunday, more than six hours after the teens had first set off in the raft to test the swollen river.
KAKE-TV in Wichita reported that one of the rescuers, described as a 43-year-old male civilian, was pulled out in "extremely critical condition" and taken to a Wichita hospital. It said the other three rescuers were with the Wellington Fire Department.
Fair said he couldn't confirm how badly the man was hurt.
He said the teens became trapped near a dam two miles south of Argonia. Using a cell phone, they called police around 8:30 p.m.
Fair said a member of the rescue group was trained in hostage negotiations and used those skills to keep the teens calm, which he said saved their lives.
He said the teens were taken to hospitals in Wellington and Harper for observation but appeared uninjured.