A man was rescued from Green Creek after falling into the waterway while kayaking Thursday afternoon.
T.J. Schlink, 27, of Effingham, was out kayaking with a friend when he struck a tree across the stream, south of the bridge on 1975th Avenue in Effingham County.
He rolled, fell out of the kayak and was swept downstream, finally managing to get a hold of a tree and climb out of the water, said Sigel Fire Chief Dave Koester. He was about 15 feet from the newly flooded bank of the creek.
"He looks like a cat in a tree," said his mother, Jody Schlink, watching from the bridge about 50 yards upriver from where Schlink was stranded.
She said she had warned the two men to not go out after they went kayaking Wednesday night. He had worn a snowmobile suit because of its supposed waterproof properties, she said. He was also wearing a personal flotation vest.
Koester said he was alerted to the incident while working nearby. They heard shouting and saw the friend walking along the fence and searching for help.
The creek was fed by recent heavy rains that continued throughout the rescue effort.
Rescue crews worked from the bank for about an hour, eventually launching a small boat to remove T.J. Schlink from the tree.
When T.J. Schlink was pulled from the river, he was "very hypothermic," said Terry Trueblood, commander of the Effingham County Dive-Rescue Team. Six members of the dive team responded, using a small boat and paddles to get Schlink off the tree. Schlink was examined by Abbott Ambulance personnel before being released.
He thanked the rescuers for their efforts and apologized for needing a rescue.
Personnel were attempting to recover the kayak, which contained his cellphone, Thursday evening.
During the rescue effort, an accident occurred as a driver approached where Sigel firefighters were standing, having closed the road.
When directed to turn back, the driver put the SUV into reverse and struck the driver's side front of the vehicle behind it.
No injuries were reported.
Graham Milldrum can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 131 or by email at email@example.com