Without any hesitation, Jeff Benting and Bob Peichel, with Isanti County Safety & Rescue, put their own lives on the line June 26 to rescue four kayakers stranded in the Rum River.
Benting and Peichel were honored July 9 with lifesaving awards due to their actions June 26 when they were dispatched to rescue the kayakers.
Sgt. Maj. Bob Boone, also with Safety & Rescue, received an honorable mention award due to his leadership as incident commander in setting up the rescue.
Isanti County Chris Caulk explained that on June 26, after some difficulty launching the Zodiac (a rubber boat) due to high water at the landing, Benting and Peichel proceeded north on the Rum River and located the victims about a mile north of the Walbo bridge.
Caulk explained all the kayakers were in the same area, pushed by the strong current into a bend full of brush, trees and one large fallen tree. One victim was in the water hanging onto a log in a very swift current. Another was standing on a tree branch, with the other two in the kayak.
Caulk explained that in challenging and dangerous circumstances, Peichel and Benting were able to rescue all four victims from the water and bring them safely to the boat landing.
The effort involved four different trips into the Rum River to rescue the kayakers, maneuvering the Zodiac into some tight spaces without getting it tangled in the brush or getting a hole punched in it.
“If it wasn’t for the actions of the three of you, the people in this room may not be sitting here today,” Caulk said. “Because of your efforts, what is above and beyond what you call the normal line of duty, we are presenting Jeff Benting and Bob Peichel with lifesaving awards, and Sgt. Maj. Bob Boone with an honorable mention award, due to his essential role as incident commander setting up the rescue.”
Caulk said even though only three members of Safety & Rescue received awards, all team members should be commended.
“This rescue was a great team effort by all those involved with Safety & Rescue,” Caulk said. “On behalf of the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office, we appreciate everything each and every one of you do for us. All of you do this for free — none of you get paid. You are a true asset in keeping this community safe.”
Isanti County Deputy Kevin Carlson said Safety & Rescue is a vital part of the community.
“I’m truly honored and privileged to work with these guys,” Carlson said. “They are a great group of people and awesome leaders. I went to the access a few days after this incident, and even though the water was down, it was still very high. Hats off to all three of you for a job well done. It was a very impressive rescue, and it shows that all the training we do pays off.”
Also assisting at the June 26 scene were Allina Ambulance and the Cambridge Fire Department.
Isanti County Sheriff Bill Guenther wanted to remind community members that water levels remain high in Isanti County and to use caution when enjoying the area lakes and rivers.