A MAN died yesterday after becoming trapped in fastflowing, freezing water while canoeing, sparking a largescale rescue effort.
Emergency services – including police, firefighters, ambulance crews, mountain rescue volunteers and paramedics from the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) – were called to Arkengarthdale Road, near Reeth, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, at about 1pm.
The man, who was in his 30s, is understood to have been canoeing in Arkle Beck, a tributary of the River Swale, when he got into difficulty.
Emergency services located him after a short search and he was airlifted to The James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where he was pronounced dead.
Steve Clough, of Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team, said 21 volunteers took part in the rescue effort, as well as emergency services personnel. The volunteers worked closely with firefighters who went into freezing water to fix a line to the man’s canoe.
Mr Clough said the water was too fast-flowing to launch a boat to rescue the man who had become trapped in debris.
His team had been training about ten miles away when they were called at 1.22pm.
Mr Clough said: “We got to Reeth as quickly as possible to assist with the search because they weren’t sure of his location at first. The water was flowing quite high with snow melt. It was very cold.
“The firefighters deployed into the water and we worked with them to secure a rope onto the kayak.”
The GNAAS aircraft landed at the scene, along with an RAF Sea King helicopter, which had been scrambled to help with the search.
A GNAAS spokesman said: “We took a doctor and paramedic to the scene who worked on the patient at the scene and throughout the flight to James Cook hospital.
“This was a large-scale rescue effort. Sadly, despite everyone’s best efforts, the man was later pronounced dead. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said crews from Reeth and Leyburn were sent to the incident, along with swift water rescue teams from Richmond and Ripon.
Meanwhile, motorists in the region were urged not to take risks on roads hit by flooding caused by melting snow.
The warning came after a driver became stuck in floodwater in Burnt Acres Road, Hawes, North Yorkshire, at about 8.45pm on Saturday.
A fire service spokeswoman said: “There are a few alerts for flooded roads. We advise motorists to take care if they come across a stretch of flooded road. Take no risks.”