By Bob Uphues
A 68-year-old North Riverside man apparently thought that Monday afternoon looked like a good day to paddle his 15-foot aluminum canoe down Salt Creek, but the flood-swollen waterway quickly proved him wrong.
After launching from a spot near the confluence of Addison Creek and Salt Creek, the man made it almost to 31st Street before he lost control and capsized at about 4:20 p.m., according to Brookfield police.
Initially, he was able to grab onto a tree in the swiftly moving flood current through the forested area next to the river. A resident of the 3000 block of Forest Avenue called 911 to report the incident, but by the time units responded, the water had washed the man downstream and under the 31st Street bridge.
According to police, he was able to grab onto another tree just south of the bridge on the east side of the creek and hung on until firefighters arrived. Riverside firefighters reportedly got to the scene first, threw the man a rescue bag and then escorted him ashore on the east bank of the creek.
The man was uninjured and his canoe was recovered from Brookfield Zoo property between 31st Street and Washington Avenue. The man was not injured and was probably fortunate not to have drifted much farther south, as Salt Creek's water level had risen all the way to the underside of the Washington Avenue bridge. There would have been no way to go underneath it without being fully submerged.