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Dive team conducts another rescue in TX

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  • Dive team conducts another rescue in TX

    The San Marcos Area Recovery Team (SMART) made another spectacular rescue last week. Check out the article at:

    News video of the SMART rescue can be found at:

    Raw video of the incident at:

    = = = = = THE STORY FOLLOWS = = = = =

    Hays County sheriff's deputies were called out to Cummings Dam around 4 p.m. Saturday after strong currents pulled a man kayaking on the San Marcos River into the dam. The dam is located just outside of Martindale.
    A 28-year-old man from San Antonio was trapped in a compartment on the face of the dam on the underside of the waterfall.

    Divers with the San Marcos Area Recovery Team, or SMART, went into the water to rescue him. The dive team is made up of police officers, paramedics and firemen.

    Members of the team say recent rains made this mission challenging.

    "The only way to get in there easily is to go down to the bottom, underneath the current and then come up in the compartment," recovery diver Dan Misiaszek said.
    "That's what we did. We went down and came up in the compartment and actually scared him when we came up out of the water. From there we gave him an extra pony tank, descended back down, gave the signal and the topside crew pulled us out."

    SMART members say since the volunteer organization started in 1988, this is only the second live recovery they've ever done. They also said people have died at that spot before.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Kayaker rescued from Cumming's Dam
    By Anita Miller
    News Editor

    — A cheer went up on the gravel bar beneath Cumming's Dam Saturday afternoon
    after San Marcos Area Recovery Team (SMART) diver Dan Misiaszek rescued a
    kayaker who had become trapped behind the rushing water.

    J.R. Campbell, 28, of San Antonio had been sucked under the dam while trying to
    run it and was trapped in a compartment built into the face of the dam.

    He had been there for about two hours, his friend said, before SMART arrived.
    During some of that time, a South Hays Fire Department volunteer was on the dam
    and able to communicate with Campbell.

    Misiaszek entered the water at approximately 4:30 p.m. Less than five minutes
    after that, he surfaced downstream with a jubilant Campbell in tow.

    James Lacewell, who had been kayaking with Campbell, said they had run the old
    dam many times in the past but not this year, when the river is running
    significantly higher.

    Lacewell said as they approached the dam, he had held a rope that was attached
    to Campbell, but "as soon as he hit the water he was sucked under."

    Lacewell said he put on a life jacket and had another friend hold a rope while
    he attempted a rescue. "I swam as hard as I could but I never even got close to
    the base of the falls."

    He said the group had run other dams on their excursion Saturday. "We were nice
    and confident. This one just sucked him under." He said Campbell is a decorated
    combat veteran who had undergone survival training. "That's probably what
    allowed him to make it."

    Campbell initially told paramedics standing by that he was fine, but almost
    collapsed twice as he was helped to a waiting ambulance. "I want to thank these
    fine gentlemen for getting me out," he said.

    Misiaszek attributed the quickness of the rescue to the well-timed actions of
    his support team. "It went like clockwork due to excellent teamwork between the
    South Hays Fire swift water rescue team and SMART," he said.

    He said once he reached Campbell, he gave him a "pony tank" from which to
    breathe before they re-entered the rushing water and let the river carry them
    free of the currents at the base of the dam.

    "We had to submerge about 20 feet to get below the curtain of water and get to
    the bottom of the dam where the current is less turbulent. When we hit the
    bottom I gave the rope signal and the topside team pulled us out and secured us
    downstream when we surfaced."

    Misiaszek said he made sure Campbell could not be separated from him. "I made
    him put his arm through my vest. Even if he wanted to let go I had him clamped.
    I wouldn't let go."

    Cumming's dam is located on the San Marcos River just below its confluence with
    the Blanco.

    It's familiar territory for Misiaszek, who rescued a 16-year-old who had also
    become trapped in a compartment on the dam's face. That occasion, in August
    2002, was the first time the SMART team — usually called out to recover bodies
    — had accomplished a rescue.

    That story was widely reported in Central Texas and was featured in the April
    2003 edition of Reader's Digest. William Hendryx' article was titled "Drama in
    Real Life — Swept Away."

    Saturday "brought back memories," Misiaszek said.

    While Campbell was being treated in the ambulance, Lacewell lined up the entire
    rescue team for a photo. He said their group intended to continue to their
    take-out point a short distance downriver.

    Someone would have to take on Campbell though. His kayak had disappeared and was
    presumed to be still under the dam trapped by the pounding force of the water.

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