UPDATE: St. George City Council received a welcome report from Police Chief Marlon Stratton Thursday night: “All is well and no drowning.”
The chief’s report came as part of a briefing on the evening’s storm impacts. Emergency responders eventually found the kayaker who had been the subject of a search effort described in this report. The man was able to get out of the river OK, Stratton said, and was found loading his kayak onto his vehicle in an area generally described as behind the Bloomington Wal-Mart.
WASHINGTON COUNTY — A man was reportedly seen thrown from his kayak into the Virgin River as a massive thunderstorm ripped through Southern Utah Thursday afternoon.
High winds toppled trees and power outages were reported as flood warnings intensified.
Just as heavy winds and rain swept through town, witnesses observed an unidentified man roll out of his kayak into the Virgin River near the Interstate 15 bridge just north of the Bloomington Wal-Mart, St. George Fire Capt. Rick Nelson said.
St George Fire received the call of the overboard kayaker at approximately 4:55 p.m.
Emergency services set up a command post at the Bloomington Park parking lot. EMS personnel were stationed on the bridge on Man O War Road on the lookout for any signs of the man.
Emergency flotation devices and an ambulance were at the ready as torrential weather caused the river’s flow to pick up speed. Members of the Washington County Search and Rescue Swift Water Team also responded, equipped and ready to assist if needed.
An Intermountain Life Flight helicopter flew south from the man’s last seen location north of the Bloomington Wal-Mart to the river adjacent to the SunRiver development, Nelson said.
After an hour of searching, no one was found.
“And just a good reminder that this is a dangerous river even though it’s a stream sometimes, today it’s a raging river,” Nelson warned. “Unless you’re experienced, you really shouldn’t be in the river.”
Anyone with information about the unidentified man should contact St. George police at 435-627-4300.
At approximately 4:30 p.m., the short but heavy storm burst through the Washington County area, causing property damage.
Broken windshields, uprooted trees and flooded roadways were reported as hail and lightning struck throughout the county.
Power outages lasting more than an hour were reported in St. George.
An advisory by the National Weather Service was issued earlier in the day warning of the storm system along with aereal flood warnings.
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