GLEN ROSE – Old adages aside, two Glen Rose teenagers are heroes as of Monday, May 30.
Johnny Kelley, 15, and Corey Wilson, 18, were sitting on the railing of a low-water bridge along the Brazos River in Rainbow just after noon, Wilson recalled, when they witnessed two kayaks with two riders enter the rough waters near the bridge. According to Wilson, it was then that the two teens watched as one rider, later identified in a Somervell County Sheriff’s Department incident report as Danny Peterson Kennedy, was dislodged from his kayak, while the other rider was left stranded and at the mercy of the water.
The kayak being piloted by Kennedy’s approximately eight-year-old son was hung under the bridge and it was then that teens jumped, literally, into action, Wilson said.
“Me and my friend Johnny walked down to the river and were sitting on the bridge when we saw two people kayaking while it was flooding,” the elder Glen Rose teen recalled. “There was [a child] in one kayak and what looked to be his dad in another and the two kayaks were tied together. The kayaks went under the bridge and got caught on the beam. The dad’s kayak went underwater [and he was thrown out], but the kayak was still attached to the boy’s kayak when the dad floated down the river.
“We saw the kid was still stuck there, so [Johnny] jumped in the river and swam out there. He tried to get the kayaks untied and couldn’t and the boys kayak sunk. He grabbed the little boy and tried to swim to shore, but was struggling. I jumped off bridge to save them and I pulled both of them to shore.”
The scene described by Wilson occurred at approximately 12:42 p.m., which is the same time Somervell County Sgt. Tommy Yoder was dispatched to the 1100 block of S. FM 200 for a welfare check in reference to a “complaint about kids possibly jumping off the bridge,” according to the SCSD incident report.
The incident report states that Kelley “felt that he had to jump from the bridge into the river to help save the boy” after he witnessed the rope between the two kayaks become wrapped around a bridge pillar and the boy begin to be pulled underwater.
Kennedy, the boy’s father who was dislodged from his kayak, was able to make his way to the riverbank after swimming down the river, the incident report states.
According to the Yoder’s report, the SCSD Sgt. then “encouraged Danny to not get back in the river, but he insisted that he was going to and that they were going to continue the kayak trip. […] [Yoder] then heard the boy state that he did not want to get back in the water.”
Yoder's report also states that he contacted Somervell County Game Warden Joni Kuykendall to ask if there were “any ways to keep the subjects off the water.”
According to the incident report, Kuykendall informed Yoder that there were no laws restricting Kennedy from getting back into the water, but to encourage the father to discontinue the trip – Kennedy did not oblige.
The rescue occurred two days after a 10-year-old boy fell into the Brazos River while fishing with friends in Weatherford, multiple outlets reported. CBSDFW.com reported the body of the boy was found in the Granbury portion of the Brazos River on Tuesday, May 31 at approximately 8:30 a.m.
Portions of Somervell County have seen between 3-7 inches of rain since Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
As of 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31, the Brazos River Authority had already increased the release from Lake Granbury's DeCordova Bend Dam to 59,000 cubic feet per second - which was up from the 23,100 CFS being released at 2 p.m. the same day. The release from Granbury was in addition to the two, potentially three, gates the BRA reported to have opened at Possum Kingdom Lake's Morris Sheppard Dam yesterday.
"Additional gate releases will be necessary. Be aware of rising water on the river and take necessary precautions,” the BRA stated. "Those downstream should be alert for rising water conditions on the river," according to BRA, "With rainfall and increasing streamflow, additional gate releases may become necessary."
A Nov. 2015 report issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission stated 33 children had drowned across the state since January – a number up approximately 38 percent from the 24 children in 2014.
Additional reporting by Travis M. Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelsey Poynor, @KPoynor_GRR