By Bob Stoetzel
The Fourth of July weekend for 2013 was a dud for a lot of revelers. It was too wet to light the fuses on the firecrackers they had bought for the celebration. However, for two visiting Murfreesboro men it became a weekend they will remember for a long time.
These two men went kayaking on the Stones River Saturday which usually meanders lazily along the rural landscape of Cannon County from Woodbury into Rutherford County in Readyville. But this weekend the Stones River could be compared to the mighty Mississippi as its banks were overrun by the result of a torrential two day rain.
The two men put into the river below the bridge at the western city limit on the Arts Center property. The men told me they waited an hour and a half and watched the water recede before they ventured in. Even then they were apprehensive to the depth and current of the river. Although it took a lot longer than the eight seconds bull riders get to hang on to the raging animal underneath them, the kayakers didn't miss it by much. One of the men said they had approximately thirty (30) seconds before they found out there was a bridge that was inundated by the raging water. Evasive action had to be taken and immediately.
One of the kayakers was able to navigate out of the main stream but the other man had to abandon his kayak to be kept from being pulled underneath the bridge which could have been fatal to him.
There was no sight of the kayak as the kayaker got onto the solid ground of the bridge. There was a noise like the banging of a plastic tub coming from under the bridge. We waited but the fear of losing the contents of the kayak caused the man to ask to be taken to the next bridge to see if it came through.
These days everyone is technologically aided by all the gadgets that are out there for use by anyone that can turn on a computer. These men had taken to the computer and used the Global Positioning Satellite or GPS and counted the bridges that ran across the river from Woodbury to Readyville.
One question: When did they build the bridge? I told them it was finished no longer than two months ago. But there used to be an old metal one there for years. They both shook their heads because the bridge was not on the GPS maps. They thought they prepared for the trip. And they didn't realize that the next bridge across Hoover Mill Road was in the same condition as the bridge that stopped them. Folks around here know that you can't underestimate the water that rolls down the Stones River after a big rain.
The man named Travis had secured all of the personal items of both men in special boxes that had flotation foam inside and were waterproof. He put keys, wallets, credit cards and licenses in those containers. These items just so happened to be in the kayak that was lost. So he had more to worry about then just the kayak. He was worried about all that plastic in those wallets.
End of the line.
I talked with several people along the route of the river and asked them to keep an eye out for the kayak. One of these men lives in a house that is on a curve in the river and he can sit on his back porch and watch for the boat or debris. He had called at 2:30 that day and said it just passed the house. After that call the kayakers had spotted their craft in several different places along the route to Readyville. Unfortunately they could not grab onto the objects to fish them out of the water. While on the bridge on Hwy 64 close to John Barker’s house they did see one of the secured containers floating towards the bridge. They tried to retrieve it but it was not to be and subsequently floated downriver to the Readyville dam into Rutherford County.
I talked with Travis later in the day and he advised me that he went home and got on the computer and found the location of the container by using the GPS app for his phone. The container was stopped somehow in the area of Goochie Ford Road in Rutherford County. They retrieved it on Sunday morning but as of this writing I still don't know if they found the other one. That container had the other man's wallet and phone in without the GPS capability.
The day started out as a time two men wanted to go on an extreme water ride to a time where their lives were in danger to a happy ending. This was a good Independence Day weekend for them to remember forever.