11-year-old applauded for quick action after river sweeps away father, brother


An 11-year-old boy is being applauded for acting quickly to notify authorities after his father and brother fell into the Pawtuxet River on Saturday.

According to Cranston police, the boy climbed the river’s banks at approximately 3:33 p.m. to advise residents at a Riverside Avenue home that his father and three-year-old brother had capsized their kayak and been swept down the fast-moving river. The boy said his kayak had also overturned as he moved toward the shoreline, but he was able to make it back to land to call for help.

The father and two sons were all wearing life vests during the incident, police said.

Cranston police and fire personnel responded to the Riverside Avenue home, and a large-scale search ensued with assistance from the Warwick Fire Department, the Department of Environmental Management and the Rhode Island State Police. A command post was established on Jefferson Boulevard.

Shortly thereafter, John Barnett, 50, of Warwick and his three-year-old son were located in the area of routes 95 and 37 after they made it to shore and successfully flagged down a motorist on Route 95. They were transported to the command post by state police and reunited with the 11-year-old boy and the family’s mother.

The father and two sons were treated for mild hypothermia and released from the scene. Both kayaks were later retrieved by Cranston police and fire personnel.


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