A 5-year-old boy and his dog were rescued Wednesday night from the Catawba River near the Nitrolee dam in Chester County after officials launched a nearly two-hour search when the water’s currents swept them away, emergency officials said.
Officials say the boy, his dog and a man walked along the dam’s spillway, used to control water levels, when dam operators released water pressure from the dam, causing the current to pick up and the water levels to rise. The boy, his dog and the man were swept away.
About 60 emergency personnel from Lancaster, Chester and Fairfield counties participated in the two-hour water rescue, said Eddie Murphy, director of Chester County Emergency Management.
Rescuers managed to find the man, 25, “fairly quickly” and took him to Springs Memorial Hospital in Lancaster, said Stephen Blackwelder, Lancaster County fire marshal.
“The five-year-old child took a little longer to find,” he said.
Paramedics reported that the boy had been hanging onto a tree while stranded on a rock.
Murphy said crews used thermal imaging equipment to track the boy’s body heat and fish him out of the water sometime before 7 p.m.
He was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Murphy said the boy was shaking and cold when he was rescued but was able to communicate with some of his rescuers.