Kimberli Gander planned to spend Sunday with family and friends tubing the Kishwaukee River. But that quickly changed when she rushed out to rescue a woman stuck in the river. "They were trying to go under the tree and she grabbed on and wouldn't let go and got pinned in between two trees," said Gander of Janesville.
An emergency boat ended up passing Gander and picked up the rescue. One of four similar scenes on the Kishwaukee Sunday, all within an hour's time. "All involving tubers. What happened is they fall off the tube and they're trapped on an island or stuck somewhere where they can't get out and they need help geting out of it," said Bill LeFever with the Cherry Valley Fire Department. Two calls came from Baumann Park in Cherry Valley that filled up with emergency crews by mid-afternoon.
The other victims were picked up at Espenscheid Memorial and Kishwaukee Forest Preserves. Nobody was hurt. But Gander says the woman she saw was scared. "The lady in the tree was very shaken, very shaken. She was stuck out there. She couldn't get out," Gander said. With all the incidents on the Kishwaukee River Sunday, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources shut it down.
Authorities are urging folks to stay away because of dangerous conditions. "When the water comes up this high, alot of the trees you would normally see, you don't see them now because the water's up and they get trapped or they get stuck so it causes a lot of problems right now," LeFever said.
Treacherous conditions that cut short a day of fun for folks like Gander. But she says she'll happily ditch the tubes to stay safe. Cherry Valley Police closed off river access in Baumann Park because of the water situation. Winnebago County Sheriff deputies are patroling the other areas where the rescues took place.
The Rock River remains closed to boaters and people tubing in Winnebago and Ogle Counties. Conditions there include floating debris, submerged piers and a swift current. IDNR feels it's too hazardous to let anyone in.