Skip to content
Iowa kayaker remembers swimming for his life in Brushy Creek


Brushy Creek water is not new territory for Ben Westcott of Webster City. He spends several days there for hours at a time. So Thursday’s nearly three-hour trip wasn’t out of the norm. “I decided to go out and catch some waves with the kayak for the thrill,” Westcott said. But what was out of the ordinary was when his kayak flipped over with his life jacket stuck inside. “I knew there was no way to save him, so I just pushed myself out.” He was in the water, half a mile from shore, with no one else in sight. “I swam on my back, that’s the only way to swim in the direction of the tree,” Westcott said. “Once in a while I turn around to see if I’m going in the right direction.” But this swim was not easy with the branches in the water – and the waves. “The second time I got pushed underwater, I thought that was just it,” Westcott said. “I thought I was gone.” But then he remembered something his drill sergeant would say to him. “He was just telling me to keep going and that’s what I kept doing,” he said. “I just continued.” He walked 400 meters until he reached a tree. One hand clinging to a branch – the other he used to type a Snapchat message on his waterlogged phone asking his friends to call for help. He blew on his phone speaker so he could dial 911. Chat agent Bill Spece was one of two MNR agents to answer. “My first thought was, thank goodness we had the boat hooked up and we have to go out there and get it out,” Spece said. Once they got to the ramp, it took them three to four minutes to reach Westcott. “Matt got a hold of him and I put the boat in neutral and I got in and we got him on the boat,” Spece said. “I was relieved,” Westcott said. kayakers. “You need to stay in an isolated area where there’s a small bay that’s sheltered from the wind,” Spece said. As for Westcott — his message is simple — life jackets: “No matter how geeky it might sound, it’s so worth it, having it on it,” he said. More from Kayla James:

Brushy Creek water is not new territory for Ben Westcott of Webster City.

He spends several days there for hours at a time. So Thursday’s nearly three-hour trip wasn’t out of the norm.

“I decided to go out and catch some waves with the kayak for the thrill,” Westcott said.

But what was out of the ordinary was when his kayak overturned with his life jacket stuck inside.

“I knew it was going to end,” Westcott said. “I knew there was no way to save him, so I just pushed myself.”

He was in the water, half a mile from shore, with no one else in sight.

“I swam on my back, that’s the only way to swim in the direction of the tree,” Westcott said. “Once in a while I turn around to see if I’m going in the right direction.”

But this swim was not easy with the branches in the water – and the waves.

“The second time I got pushed underwater, I thought that was just it,” Westcott said. “I thought I was gone.”

But then he remembered something his drill sergeant would say to him.

“He was just telling me to keep going and that’s what I kept doing,” he said. “I just continued.”

He walked 400 meters until he reached a tree. One hand clinging to a branch – the other he used to type a Snapchat message on his waterlogged phone asking his friends to call for help.

He blew on his phone speaker to dial 911.

Chatter Bill Spece was one of two MNR officers to respond.

“My first thought was, thank goodness we had the boat hooked up and we have to go out there and get it out,” Spece said.

Once we got to the ramp it took three to four minutes to reach Westcott.

“Matt got a hold of him and I put the boat in neutral and I got in and we got him on the boat,” Spece said.

“I was relieved,” Westcott said.

Spece says Thursday’s winds caused 2-foot waves, making it difficult for kayakers.

“You need to stay in an isolated area where there’s a small bay that’s sheltered from the wind,” Spece said.

As for Westcott – his message is simple – life jackets:

“No matter how geeky it may sound, it’s definitely worth having,” he said.

More from Kayla James:


Cnn

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.