Raging Isar nearly sweeps away father and son

Gravel islands in the Sylvensteinstausee  | munichFOTO/wikipediaAn excursion in the region of Bad Tölz almost came to a tragic ending last weekend when a camping trip on the banks of the Isar ended in a rescue mission

'Negligent', 'reckless' and 'irresponsible'. These were the words the leader of the rescue operation, Thomas Diessenberger, used to describe the incident in a statement on Sunday morning. The 48-year-old father from Munich called the emergency services with his mobile telephone on Saturday night. He told them that he and his son were stuck on a gravel island in the middle of the Isar River and needed immediate assistance. Shortly afterwards the battery on the phone went dead. Diessenberger, the leader of the south division of the Schnelleinsatzgruppe (Rapid Response Group), along with 7 colleagues, immediately set off in the direction of Sylvensteinstausee.

A father and son had left on Saturday morning and waded out to the small gravel island 1.5 kilometers away from Sylvensteinstausee intending to spend the night. However, due to heavy rainfall during the night, their makeshift campsite was quickly threatened by rising waters. What was originally ankle deep water suddenly became impassable. "If we had arrived only a few moments later, the pair would have been swept away," explained Deissenburger.

The Schnelleinsatzgruppe (SEG) arrived quickly enough that a helicopter was not needed and the father and son were brought to safety by a raft. '"The water was a raging torrent, any attempt to swim to safety would have ended in disaster," said Deissenberger. "This was the first rescue of this type this year, but in 2011 a number of similar rescue operations were carried out - and the trend is rising."

The SEG think the increase in incidents is probably due to the popularity of various types of rafting. "Unfortunately many people underestimate the danger inherent in watersports," said Deissenberger. Whoever simply goes to the Isar clad only in swimming trunks with a boat bought from a supermarket - and especially those who are under the influence of alcohol - are playing Russian roulette with their lives. "Lifejackets and wetsuits are essential pieces of equipment when one is considering activities of this type," said the SEG leader.

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