For the love of water

The waterfall pounded on the capsized kayak, pinning 43-year-old Slim Ray in the turbulent, rocky pool below.

He couldn’t move. He couldn’t breathe. He was being squeezed like a man inside a crushing handshake, and thoughts of drowning seeped into his mind.

But the grinding flow of the Green River loosened its grip.

Ray’s paddle floated free. His nearly 11-foot-long boat followed, and, finally, him.

The paddling instructor — a pioneer of swift-water rescue — shouted for help as the water tugged him downstream. His companions threw ropes to him from the shore. He caught the second and was pulled to safety.

Worse than his pain was the nothing he felt below his waist.

Read: For the love of water