We never know when conflict or tragedy may strike us or our family. All we can do is strive to be prepared and safe AND pray a Scout is nearby with courage and skills to jump into action. This is the story that unfolded for a New Braunfels woman navigating the Guadalupe River several months ago. Luckily, Sue Ellison, 73, was not far away from Scouts BSA Troop 381 boys Therren Beettner, Nate Coehen, and Christopher Bowling, having lunch on the riverbank alongside their kayaks.
Below is the story as told by Therren Beettner:
“On May 20, 2020, Christopher Bowling, Nate Koehne, and I were kayaking on the Guadalupe River. We do a kayak trip about once every week. That week we did a six-hour trip starting at Riverchase Park and ending at Cypress Bend Park. We stopped at the rapids right after Huaco Springs. The last time we did this route, Huaco Springs rapids were the most challenging rapids, so we decided that we would stop right before the rapids to take a break and eat lunch. While eating lunch we saw some tubers going down the rapids. There is one rock that sticks up out of the water. It will flip you if you’re unlucky enough to hit it.
Ms. Sue and her daughter hit the rock, deflating Ms. Sue’s tube. I saw them take a tumble then watched their silhouette move down the river and around a group of trees. I decided to get up and make sure they were ok. When I arrived, Ms. Sue’s daughter was holding her mom’s head above the water and they had stopped themselves on some rocks in the Rapids. I yelled and asked if they needed help. They replied, “yes”.
I ran over to Christopher and Nate farther up on the riverbank. I proceeded to grab my lifejacket and told them to unload the smallest kayak and carry it down to where Ms. Sue and her daughter were. I then waded into the Rapids and wrapped my life jacket around Ms. Sue. Christopher, moments later, showed up with the kayak. I instructed him to bring it up next to Ms. Sue and hold onto it. I then proceeded to lift Ms. Sue out of the water and onto the kayak and then held the boat steady while she regained her balance. I walked the kayak through the rest of the rapids. After the rapids, it suddenly drops off deep. I then tied a bowling knot, wrapped it around my waist, and swam her to shore. When we got her on land, I gave instructions to Nate to get my first aid kit and a cell phone. I gave some Neosporin to Ms. Sue’s daughter to apply to her knees. She was bruised and lost her strength in her legs. Her family wanted to get her to the rental property they had farther down on the river as soon as possible.
They gave her the tube from their cooler. We put the cooler on one of our kayaks. I towed Ms. Sue for about 90 minutes downriver, through two more groups of rapids before we got to where she believed was her rental property. The riverbank was steep and rocky so Christopher, Nate, and I assisted her up the riverbank to a metal staircase going up to a house on top of a very tall hill. We followed behind Ms. Sue to make sure she didn’t slip or fall and make it up the stairs safely. When we got to the top of the staircase there was a gate with a lock on it. Ms. Sue still believing this was the correct rental property, I crawled over the gate to knock on the door. Turns out this was not the correct rental property. This was a man’s private residence. The owner was a little upset about us trespassing especially since there were three no-trespassing signs at the riverbank. I explained to him the situation and what we had just done for Ms. Sue. The owner calmed down and understood the situation. He unlocked the gate and gave Ms. Sue a ride to her rental property; which was only two houses down. It would’ve been largely difficult to get her out there by the water. Once we saw she got in the truck safely, we hopped back on our kayaks, dropped off the cooler at the right rental property, then proceeded to finish off our kayak trip.”
On behalf of the Alamo Area Council, I’d like to thank the Scouts Therren, Nate, and Christopher for their bravery.
“These boys are little heroes,” Ellison said. “I honestly think I would have died without them. I couldn’t get my footing and no one could get me out.”
Reporter Lauren Corbell of the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung News wrote a nice article “Teen uses Scout Skills to Rescue Senior from River” on June 4, 2020 that also describes the event – http://herald-zeitung.com/community_alert/article_c85b9ce4-a6c2-11ea-b7cc-1b8a6349365d.html?fbclid=IwAR3l1h4VgHeDp5ggas4RMmfWvLfcBor23VkLLSIejLqednKYZ5dl0oiejy4