Canoer Rescued From Chehalis River Near Oakville


After his canoe tipped in the Chehalis River, a man spent at least 45 minutes in the water before being rescued by Grays Harbor County first responders.

The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office and Grays Harbor Fire District 1 responded to the call around 5:20 p.m. that a man whose canoe had tipped was stranded in swift waters near the Oakville Boat Launch #2 off Elma Gate Road West. 

A post from Grays Harbor Scanner on Facebook stated the teams were bringing in a boat and that those on the scene had made contact with the man, who was apparently hanging onto a tree branch to prevent himself from being washed downstream.

Cory Antony with Grays Harbor Fire District 1 said that one responder fortunately had access to a personal boat that the team used for the rescue. Grays Harbor Scanner posted that the man, Eric Readel, 44, had been rescued at 5:57 p.m.

“(We) saved somebody’s life today. Not too many people can say that,” Antony said, adding later: “That guy had been holding on for a half hour, easily. He was cold.”

Readel said he has canoed this section of the river before, but the swift water overtook him. He was possibly hypothermic, but was evaluated by medics at the scene and was on his way home with his partner shortly after being rescued. 

One representative from Grays Harbor Fire said Readel did not appear to be wearing a life vest.