Kayaker rescued by helicopter on the Salt River 'could have ended in tragedy'

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shared a video of a kayaker being rescued by helicopter on Sunday afternoon following a series of water rescues, even some deaths, within the last few days.

"Two adult males were kayaking at the Salt River approaching the Phone D Sutton area when they became separated and one of them capsized," says Sgt. Joaquin Enriquez on March 19. 

The kayaker was able to hold onto trees as MCSO worked to rescue him.

The 2 kayakers are OK.

MORE: 2 dead, others rescued in several different water incidents in the Phoenix area

"Once again we are seeing great effort by MSCO personnel bringing this rescue to a safe solution, which could have ended in tragedy. The kayaker was wearing a life jacket which played a huge role in a positive outcome," Enriquez said.

Water levels in basins, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water have risen greatly recently due to the release of water from dams. Arizona is expecting more rain in the next week, and monsoon season is just months from now, so the water is being released to make room for more instead of allowing the dams to overflow.

'A little volatile, a little unsafe'

Rescues like this made Teri Carlin change what she tells customers who come to her Tempe kayaking store, Riverbound Sports.

"Since the water is so swollen, there's trees and branches and hazards that can get people into a lot of trouble they're not prepared for," she said.

They are no longer recommending people kayak the lower Salt River, though many spring breakers want to.

"With spring training and people traveling into town, they want to go see the horses, but we're really trying to divert people to go to the lakes instead. The river is just a little volatile, a little unsafe," she cautioned.

A life jacket is a must, but even with that, when she went to the lower Salt River over the weekend, she didn’t launch. The currents are just too unpredictable.

" … I know better, and I just encourage people to do the same," Carlin said.