Men rescued from river after canoe, kayak capsize

Strong current contributed to situation that left paddlers stranded on island, chief says
Ozaukee Press Staff

Three men were rescued on an island along the Milwaukee River on Sunday after a strong current capsized their canoe and kayak.

The Grafton Fire Department received a call at 5:55 p.m. on Sunday, May 13, from the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office to report three men in their early 20s were stranded on an island south of Manchester Drive in the Town of Grafton.

“They were knocked off their canoe and kayak because they said they underestimated the currents,” Grafton Fire Department Chief Bill Rice said, noting there was a high water level on the river. 

Rice said the island is heavily wooded and it took some time to search for the men. When the men were located on the shore of the island they were assessed for any medical needs, but the men refused treatment because they were not injured.

The trio was transported individually to land by an inflatable water-rescue craft, which took about an hour, Rice said.

The men initially launched from Lime Kiln Park and made it about a half-mile downstream before the canoe and kayak capsized.

“People continue to underestimate the force of the current and get themselves in trouble,” Rice said, noting it is difficult to determine the strength of the currents.

“In the spring time, the water levels are high, and if it rains it gets even more challenging. I recommend to stay out of the river until the water levels come down.”

Rice said the men were lucky to be on the shore facing the Town of Grafton, because it would have been a greater challenge to rescue them from the other side of the island.

“It’s extremely difficult to get to those types of locations because they are remote, which makes it a challenge to find and recover people,” he said. 

The Cedarburg and Port Washington water-rescue teams also responded to the incident. 




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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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