‘Turn around, don’t drown’: Kansans help save stranded family in Canadian River rescue


CUNNINGHAM, Kan. (KSNW) – “Turn around, don’t drown,” Chris Roberts said.

It’s a simple message, that some drivers ignore.

“I think people don’t listen to that warning,” he said. “We’ll be fine if we go slow.”

Cunningham resident Chris Roberts said he and his friends traveled to Texas over Memorial Day weekend to go ATVing at the Canadian River.

“It’s something that’s just fun to do,” he said.

But while they were riding, they found several people stranded in the river late Saturday night.

“I was driving with my friends and all of a sudden my friend slammed on the breaks and said what about that guy,” he said. “I said there’s nobody behind me, and he goes the guy in the water.”

Roberts said a couple was stranded on top of the roof of their monster truck.

“My buddies threw a rope to them and pulled them to safety,” he said. “They alerted us there were two other trucks downstream that were stranded with them.”

One of those groups had eight people stranded on top of the roof of their car with children.

“Luckily, they called 911, but I was very worried they were going to die because that river looked like it was going to tear them off of that truck,” he said.

Once ADP dive teams arrived, he said his friends assisted them to the location.

“So we were giving rides to the scuba team,” he said. “They threw their gear in there, and we drove them up and down and back and forth to the rescue trucks.”

Roberts said he and his friends were in the right place at the right time.

“Yeah, we feel blessed to be in the right place at the right time because it was one of those things otherwise you might not have seen them.” he said.

But he said the real heroes were the emergency response teams.

“They kept everyone calm and were so quick to respond,” he said. “They saved those people’s lives, not us.”

Officials said all 13 individuals were rescued.

Robert said he wants to use this past Memorial Day weekend to remind everyone to turn around, don’t drown.

“Those signs are there for a reason,” he said. “It’s for your safety.”

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