Kayak Companies Extra Cautious after Sunday Storms

Two companies cited after Sunday storms

By Sharon Wright and Mitchell Grogg
|  Monday, Jul 2, 2012  |  Updated 8:29 PM CDT
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Kayakers on the Chicago River enjoyed a calm and beautiful day on Monday, but it was quite a different story a day earlier for dozens of people who were out on the water and got caught in a storm. Sharon Wright reports.

Kayakers on the Chicago River enjoyed a calm and beautiful day on Monday, but it was quite a different story a day earlier for dozens of people who were out on the water and got caught in a storm. Sharon Wright reports.

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Chicago kayak companies were taking extra precautions Monday after storms a day earlier left a half dozen kayakers under water and two companies cited.

As around 60 people were approaching docks in kayaks on the Chicago River Sunday, a storm blew in, with winds made worse by tall downtown buildings, Wateriders Kayak Company owner Charles Portis said.

"We made it back to basically between the Chicago Avenue bridge and our location, so we were just a few hundred yards of being home," he said. "The problem was, just as we were getting, you know, a hundred yards away, the storm hit, and it was the winds that were so strong and they were blowing off these buildings, and they funnel here on this part of the river."

The force of those winds caused several people's kayaks to roll over. Dozens had to be rescued from the water, though nobody was injured

"Of the 60 or 62 people that were out there with two kayak companies, you know, I think something like six or seven people ended up in the water because the wind was so strong it rolled their boat over," said Portis

"We came back immediately when we saw it on the radar," he said.

Wateriders and Kayak Chicago were cited in connection with the incident.

Those citations along with a possibility for storms Monday led some companies to keep a closer eye on the water, on radar, and on the skies, ready to call it quits if conditions get too dangerous.

"Better safe than sorry," said Asher Gershenzon of Urban Kayaks. "We're constantly checking the radar every ten minutes, and you know, if it looks like it's coming at us at all, we're gonna shut down the operation."

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