Falls Reservoir kayaker’s life saved by Stanly sheriff’s deputy, wildlife officer

Published 4:03 pm Monday, March 15, 2021

By Chris Miller

ALBEMARLE — A state wildlife officer and a Stanly County sheriff’s deputy teamed up to help save a man who had stopped breathing Saturday at Falls Reservoir.

According to a post on the NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s Facebook page, the kayaker “had turned his vessel over on Falls Reservoir and had been underwater for several minutes” when the rescue effort began.

Wildlife Commission Master Officer David Ritzheimer and sheriff deputy Darnell Almond “took turns performing CPR for multiple minutes before the kayaker was revived,” according to the post. The kayaker has been identified as Russell Kraus, 68, of Albemarle, according to NC Wildlife Resources Commission Sgt. Darby Enoch.

Kraus was part of a kayaking event on Falls Reservoir Saturday morning, organized by the Three Rivers Land Trust, Enoch said.

At approximately 11:50 a.m., Kraus went underwater, Enoch said, adding that according to witnesses, Kraus was submerged between four to six minutes. A fellow kayaker heard Kraus’ cries for help, got in the water and helped pull Kraus out from his kayak.

As soon as Kraus was free from his kayak, Ritzheimer and Almond arrived and they hoisted Kraus onto the patrol boat.

After they began performing CPR, Enoch said it took between four to six minutes for Ritzheimer and Almond to get a pulse and he was able to breathe on his own.

Kraus was wearing a personal flotation device, but Enoch described it as not being “in serviceable condition.”

“There was a tear or rip in it, so it was capable of taking on water,” Enoch said about the device.

Officials still don’t know the specifics behind the incident, but it happened quickly.

According to witnesses, “one second they saw him and he was upright and the next second he was under water,” Enoch said.

Though he doesn’t know the details about Kraus’ medical condition, Enoch said that as of Saturday evening, he heard Kraus was in stable condition.