ETOWAH COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Grief counselors are being made available to the Etowah County Rescue Squad as they mourn the loss of one of their members who died while trying to find a missing kayaker over the weekend.
Several members of the squad searched for 25-year-old Dakota Brett Crandall, who went missing while kayaking on Big Wills Creek around 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
During the search, the spillway water got into the boats and capsized two of them, sending four members to the hospital. Three were released, but Vicky Ryan was pronounced dead at the hospital just before 10:30 p.m. Saturday night.
Crandall's body was found on Sunday morning. He lived in Southside but was originally from Utah.
On Monday morning, the kayak, rescue boats and life vests were still visible in Big Wills Creek.
Jim Matlock, the assistant fire chief of the Gadsden Fire Department, says the area where it happened on Big Wills Creek off of Brooke Avenue is dangerous and should be off-limits.
"This is not a safe area. It has a very strong undertow and strong current and it's just a dangerous situation. This will be the first fatality we've had but we've had three rescues here in the last month," Matlock said.
"We're looking to put up two signs here at the bridge, one on each side, that says, 'No Boating,'" Gadsden councilor Johnny Cannon said.
He'd also like to see a fence put up around the property, but he's not sure the city can do so. He's looking into it.
As popular as the creek is, Cannon says it is a good place to fish but not to boat or even swim and he hopes people heed the warning.
"Be safe, don't be sorry. Just enjoy your life, but don't get killed down here," Cannon said.
The rescue squad has suspended operations so they can grieve Ryan, who leaves behind her husband Houston, also a member of the rescue squad, and a 10-year-old son Brayson.
Ryan joined the rescue squad after seeing a child drown. She wanted to prevent that from happening to anyone else.
"She gave her life for what she wanted to do," her pastor Mike Hengle said.
"The Scripture says what greater gift can you give if you give up your life for another? She went the way she wanted to go. I really believe that with all my heart," he added.
Ryan and the other rescue squad members were all wearing life jackets and were constantly training, but the spillway water got into their boats on Saturday and two of them capsized.
A visitation for Ryan will be held on Thursday, April 30 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Glencoe-Hokes Bluff Funeral Home. Her burial arrangements have not been announced yet.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family during this difficult time: http://www.gofundme.com/sz2q3e6