EXCLUSIVE: Kayaker talks about his rescue from flooded river
COLUMBIA - A kayaker rescued from the Missouri River says he feels "very lucky."
Thomas Sidebottom was pulled from the river late Tuesday night hours after a witness reported he had seen his kayak flip. Sidebottom said he was worried he'd never see his family again.
In an exclusive interview with KOMU 8 News, Sidebottom said he and a friend were trying to make it back to shore before sundown when the kayak overturned. Sidebottom said he just kept telling himself to keep kicking and holding on.
"I just kept thinking to myself that I had to have the strength to keep my head above water and to hang on to that kayak. Every time I saw a light, I'd just scream and holler trying to get attention from anybody," he said.
Sidebottom said it felt like hours before he was rescued, and while he likes being on the water, that was just too long.
"It's a surreal, eerie feeling when you're out their floating by yourself. I really, I can't put it into words," he said. "Everyone wants a little peace and quiet from the world. That was just a little too much peace and quiet."
Sidebottom said he wasn't wearing a life jacket and knows that was a mistake. He said he's grateful for the rescuers who risked their own lives for his.
He said he wasn't hurt, just left feeling sore and tired.
Regional West Fire District Chief Jack Brade said the flood waters made the rescue even more dangerous.
"It creates a bigger hazard because of everything coming down in the river. The river is now out in the fields and up in the woods," he said. "So the search area becomes much larger. There are fences under water. They can catch a prop and put the boat out of commission."
Brade said the fact that Sidebottom was able to hold onto his kayak probably saved his life.
"Had he not been able to hold on, the outcome probably would've been a lot worse. So we were just grateful that it was a rescue and not a recovery."