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Boy, 11, Helps Save Dad, 3-Year-old Brother, after Kayaks Capsize in Pawtuxet River

First responders are calling a local boy a hero after he stayed calm and made it to shore after his kayak and the kayak piloted by his father and brother capsized in the chilly Pawtuxet River on Saturday.

(Patch file photo)
(Patch file photo)
First responders are calling a local 11-year-old boy a hero after he climbed up the banks of the chilly Pawtuxet River and helped save his father and three-year-old brother from being swept away after their kayaks overturned on Saturday.

Police said at around 3:30 p.m.,  the boy, in his own kayak, and his father and young brother in another kayak were on enjoying a sunny, breezy spring afternoon on the river when the father, identified as 50-year-old John Barnett of Warwick, capsized. The fast moving water began to sweep them down the river.

All three were wearing life vests, but the water was cold and moving swiftly as the 11-year-old attempted to make it to shore to get help, but his kayak overturned too, plunging him into the cold waters that were now carrying away his father and brother.

But he persisted and managed to make it to the shoreline to get help, reaching the house at 166 Riverside Ave.

Seconds later, the Cranston police and fire departments, along with help from Warwick firefighters, the state Department of Environmental Management and the Rhode Island State Police launched a large-scale search, setting up a command post on Jefferson Boulevard just west of Interstate 95.

Moments later, they located the Barnett clutching his son in the river in an area off Interstate 95 and Route 37 after he managed to make it to the shore and flagging a motorist on Route 95.

State police transported the father and son to the command post to reunite them with the brave 11-year-old and their mother.

All three were treated for mild hypothermia and were released from the scene.

Police later found both kayaks down river.

Thanks to the brave boy — and the presence of mind for all to be wearing life vests — this story ended on a positive note.

brian dupont May 05, 2014 at 10:42 AM
Thank God they were found safe and uninjured and his oldest son is a hero. But for the life of me (and I am an experienced Kayaker) why would you have a 3 year old in the kayak with you on a moving river. It just does not make sense and I hope the dad now realizes that.

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