Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – Swift water rescue teams actively searched the Lower Saluda River for a person who was reportedly kayaking and went missing earlier Thursday evening. Fire units responded to the river where they launched several of their special boats designed to stand the rigors of the rough water.
Lexington County launched in the area of Riverchase Way and the Irmo Fire District has also deployed their team from the Saluda Shoals area. The West Columbia Fire Department also assisted in case the person was swept down into the rapids around the zoo. Each team member is specially trained for this type of a rescue, but as of 7:00 p.m. Thursday, none of the teams had located the missing kayak-er. Eventually, a sheriff's deputy spotted the missing person and was able to help get them to safety.
The Lower Saluda River is known to change rapidly as the owner of Lake Murray, SCE&G, has the ability to flow water out of their Saluda River hydro plant to produce energy and adjust the levels of the lake. SCE&G had been lowering the lake in anticipation of a significant rain event from Hurricane Florence. Some parts of the Lower Saluda can be very dangerous when the water is flowing. According to the website whitewater101.com, the Lower Saluda is an 11 mile stretch that runs from the base of the Lake Murray Dam to the confluence of the Broad River in downtown Columbia where they form the Congaree River. Because the Lower Saluda is fed from the bottom of Lake Murray, the river is cold year-round. The website says that the waters can range from a manageable Class II to a raging Class IV, depending in the flow from the lake.
The health of the person who was in the river has not been released as of 7:30 p.m. Thursday.