Blind man in wheelchair rescued from Phoenix canal

PHOENIX — A legally blind man in a wheelchair was rescued from a canal in Phoenix on Tuesday morning after he rolled in, authorities said.

Capt. Reda Bigler, a Phoenix Fire Department spokeswoman, said the man in his 50s was in the canal that runs past the Raven Golf Club.

He rolled in about about 9:15 a.m. and remained in the waist-deep water for about 20 minutes before a woman passing by spotted him and called 911, Bigler said.

The Fire Department waded through the knee-deep water to get to the man and hoist him onto a ladder, Bigler said. The man was able to climb out with assistance, she said.

Bigler said the man was becoming a little hypothermic before he was pulled from the cool water. He was evaluated after his rescue, and he elected to not be taken to the hospital, she said.

It was lucky that he landed in the water right-side-up, Bigler said.

"He actually was able to remain in his chair and keep afloat," Bigler said. “This could have been a much a much different situation had he not landed the way he did."

It was also lucky that the water was still, Bigler said.

"The fact that this water isn't moving kind of changes the dynamics for us," she said. "If we've got some moving water — no matter how fast it is — that slows the operation down for us."

Bigler said the the Fire Department contacted Salt River Project, which is in charge of the canal, to make sure the gates in the waterway did not automatically open and release a flow of water during the rescue.

USA TODAY


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