EUGENE, Ore. — A Eugene couple is safe Sunday night after nearly drowning, when their kayaks got tangled and stuck in some debris on the McKenzie River.


Lane County Sheriff’s Deputies say the victims avoided tragedy in part because they were wearing life jackets and that they were lucky the water didn’t suck them under.


It happened shortly before 2:00 p.m. on Sunday when the two kayakers on the McKenzie became stuck.  The couple had set out from Armitage Park when they veered off into a back channel and were quickly sucked into root wad criss-crossed by tree limbs.


Rescue crews from the sheriff’s office, Springfield Fire and Eugene Fire responded and boated out to the remote spot where the two victims were clinging to a log.


“At first it was panic, I couldn’t find my wife. Once I heard her that she was holding on, then I knew she was above the water,” said Jon Ericson, a rescued kayaker.


Crews says the kayakers are lucky because most of the time when people get sucked into river debris, victims get pulled under the water and can’t get out.


The victims say even though they’re shaken by their near death experience it won’t detour them from getting back out on the river.  They say next time they’ll pick their kayaking spot more carefully.

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