Tiki Boat captain rescues man whose kayak capsized in the Allegheny River

PITTSBURGH — The captain of a floating tiki boat rescued a man whose kayak capsized in the Allegheny River over the weekend.

“We get to the boat, and Captain Chris is like ‘Come on. We have to go save this guy,’” said Simon Ince. “It was like holy cow. There’s a guy in the water.”

A birthday celebration on one of the Cruisin’ Tikis turned into a water rescue on Sunday.

“He has his life jacket on, but it was slid up almost over his head,” Ince said. “He looked like he could barely swim, and he was just hanging on for dear life almost.”

“Once the person in the kayak had capsized and separated themselves from the kayak, the kayak started to blow up river towards the Clemente bridge and PNC Park and he was being taken down river by the current,” said Cruisin’ Tikis Pittsburgh Owner Dale McCue.

In a Facebook video posted by View Pittsburgh, you can see Captain Chris Patton grab the kayaker’s hand and help him onto the boat.

“He made it seem like it was a daily occurrence,” Ince said. “Just another day at work. He was very much just like ‘Welp, here we are pulling someone out of the river.’ Holy cow, this guy could have died. Captain Chris is like ‘It’s happened before. It’ll happen again.’”

It has happened before.

“I started looking at their Facebook, and it’s like they saved this kid at the Point,” Ince said. “They saved this lady down here and over here.”

Last summer, a different Tiki captain pulled a woman from the Monongahela River, and Patton helped in that other rescue near the Point.

>>> Tiki boat captain credits early departure for ability to save woman’s life

“There’s probably a couple that have gone unnoticed,” McCue said. “But three major ones that we know of so far.”

McCue says Patton has 20 years of kayak experience as a guide.

“Our captains are awesome,” McCue said. “Their heads are on a swivel, and you can see the design of the boat. Captains have a 360-degree view, and you need it out there.”

Venture Outdoors says it had nearly 65 kayakers out on the water on Sunday. They require life jackets. Each life jacket has a card with emergency contact information.

They also monitor conditions such as water level and wind.

Pittsburgh Public Safety says Fire, EMS and River Rescue tried to evaluate him, but he refused and walked away. Communication was difficult because the man did not speak English.

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