RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond rescue crews responded to two calls on the James River on Friday afternoon.
Richmond Fire Captain Raymond Neville said around 1:40 p.m. crews received a call about three people kayaking on the James River when they got stuck between the Manchester Bridge and Mayo Bridge.
"They were overwhelmed by conditions [on the James}," Neville said. "They split up into three different locations."
After more than an hour of navigating between rocks and trees, the kayakers were rescued. No serious injuries were reported.
In the second call around 4 p.m., Neville said a man went after his dog who was swept away in the water near the Potterfield Bridge.
Gary Schumacher was working security for Friday Cheers when he made the 911 call about the situation.
"As I was talking to them I said he just went under and he's being held under," Schumacher said. "The dog just went under. The next thing I know everybody is on their way."
Schumacher said he watched the whole situation unfold.
"The dog was chasing the ducks and then I noticed the individual went after, I suppose to help his dog out, but both the dog and the individual got caught up in the current," he said.
"It was a noble purpose," said Pat Gill, another eyewitness. "But the hydraulic was like the equivalent of a low water dam, so it's very dangerous."
Gill also saw part of the rescue efforts. He said the man was swept under the bridge but kept going underwater where the hydraulic is.
Both Schumacher and Gill said a nearby canoeist paddled into action to help save the man.
"I counted three, four, five times where he went under and when he came back up he had a hard time holding on to the canoe," Schumacher said.
According to Schumacher, the canoeist and the man in the water traveled over a second dam, where the Richmond Rescue Squad met up with them.
Neville said crews linked up with the man at the eastern tip of Brown's Island. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition from nearly drowning.
The dog was also rescued, and is said to be okay.
While Neville said crews are used to training in these kinds of conditions out on the water, he is urging folks to take safety precautions if heading out on the water.
"If you don't know what you're doing in the water stay out of it," he said. "Wear a personal flotation device (PFD), it's important. Even if the water level is only three feet, wear a PFD. It saves lives."
Richmond Police, Richmond Fire, and the Ambulance Authority all responded to the second incident.
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