On Christmas afternoon, a man who had received a kayak as a Christmas gift was anxious to try it out, so he took it to the Amistad Reservoir at Amistad National Recreation Area, launched it, paddled out from shore, and ended up having an experience he will never forget. After his newly-acquired craft capsized and drifted away, he found himself struggling for his life in bone-chilling water. He was wearing a PFD, but several hours of immersion in the 60-degree water left him dangerously chilled.
Rescuers got to him in time, but it was a very near thing. Someone made a 911 call to the Val Verde County Communications Center after spotting someone in the water waving for help near the Highway 277 Bridge at the far eastern end of the park. Rangers Andrew McGahan and Matt Gilbert rushed to the site from different locations. McGahan arrived within minutes and spotted the man in the lake. Wearing an insulated "float coat," he swam out to the man, who was about 75 yards from the shore, and used a throw rope to tow him to safety. Gilbert arrived soon afterward to assist.
The rescued kayaker, who said he thought he'd been in the water for about two hours, was transported by ambulance to Val Verde Regional Medical Center after he was determined to be moderately to severely hypothermic. He was released after being treated for hypothermia and his kayak was recovered the next day.