LEOs revive submerged kayaker after performing CPR

A wildlife officer and a sheriff's deputy took turns performing CPR for "multiple minutes," officials said

By Mark Price
The Charlotte Observer

STANLY COUNTY, N.C. — A 68-year-old kayaker with no pulse was resuscitated after a state wildlife officer and a Stanly County sheriff's deputy took turns performing CPR for "multiple minutes," according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

The kayaker was identified as Russell Elliott Kraus of Albemarle and he remained hospitalized Monday, state wildlife officials told McClatchy News.

The incident happened just before noon Saturday at Falls Reservoir, a lake along the Yadkin River in eastern Stanly County, state officials said in a Facebook post.

Wildlife commission Master Officer David Ritzheimer was patrolling the water by boat when he heard cries for help from a group gathered on the lake's Montgomery County shore, officials said.

[READ: What cops need to know about cardiocerebral resuscitation]

A kayak was seen overturned in the middle of the lake and a nearby boater was trying to help Kraus, who "had turned his vessel over ... and had been underwater for several minutes," officials said.

Kraus had no pulse and was not breathing, according to Sgt. Darby Enoch of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

Ritzheimer and sheriff's deputy Darnell Almond pulled Kraus aboard, where Ritzheimer performed CPR as Almond drove the boat to shore. Once ashore, the two officers took turns performing CPR on Kraus for "multiple minutes" until he was able to breathe, Enoch said.

Kraus was at the lake participating in an kayaking event organized by the Three Rivers Land Trust. He was wearing a personal flotation device, but it was ripped, which allowed him to sink, Enoch said. Investigators don't yet know how his kayak flipped over.


On Saturday, Master Officer David Ritzheimer assisted in the rescue of a kayaker who had turned his vessel over on Falls...

Posted by NC Wildlife Resources Commission on Monday, March 15, 2021

Ritzheimer and Almond each have 25 years law enforcement experience, which compelled them not to give up, Enoch said.

"They've been in situations like this before. I'm just glad they were on the water that day," Enoch said. "Sometimes, you feel you've called to a certain place for a reason. It doesn't always turn out the way it did in this case."

Falls Reservoir is along Uwharrie National Forest and is a popular destination for kayakers because it is deep, narrow and "there are not many motorized boats around," according to Base Camp Carolina.

The 2-mile-long lake was "created between Narrows Dam, holding back Badin Lake, and Falls Dam which marks the beginning of Lake Tillery," according to Paddling.com.

[NEXT: Dr. Oz helps police perform CPR on man who collapsed at airport]

(c)2021 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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