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Man thought lost paddles into middle of search

TYRO — A possible tragedy turned to an Ok-nevermind moment Sunday evening when a man thought to have drowned in the Yadkin River turned up safe and just back from a kayak ride with friends.

But until he was accounted for, an army of rescue boats from Davidson, Rowan and Davie counties were in the river looking for the missing 21-year-old, who really was never missing.

Late Sunday afternoon, Davidson County law enforcement were alerted to evidence near the access area off U.S. 64 that a man may have fallen off the bank into the Yadkin River, which is up and moving fast with recent rains.

Only the day before, 45-year-old Steven Tanksley of Salisbury had drowned in the South Yadkin River at the RiverPark at Cooleemee Falls, also known as the Bullhole.

There was an empty pickup at the nearby Tarheel Q restaurant, abandoned fishing gear on the bank, a chair and skid marks down the steep bank as though someone had fallen into the river.

Davidson County law enforcement and rescue personnel called in help from Rowan and Davie counties to search for a man traced back to the truck through a license check.

The Rowan Rescue Squad, Miller’s Ferry Fire Department and Ellis Crossroads fire departments put in Rescue Squad boats and an airboat at the York Hill access north of Spencer.

They took off upstream from there, searching the waters as they proceeded.

Davie County boats went in at the N.C. 801 access even farther upstream, while other boats were closer to U.S. 64.

“You just don’t know,” said Eddie Cress, chief of the Rowan Rescue Squad. “.. We don’t want to leave someone out here that is in distress.”

The Rowan boats were called in at 5:47 p.m. In an hour or so, four guys in two kayaks, including the man rescue teams were looking for, came back to the spot where a command post had been set up.

“It ended as quick as it started,” Cress said. “The outcome was real good.”

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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