Response by officials averts drowning at Marion Reservoir

Marion County Sheriff’s officers worked with Corps of Engineers rangers to rescue a near-drowning victim Sept. 8, and also responded the same evening to recover some stolen dirt motorbikes from men arrested for possession of stolen property who were riding them.

Richard Williams, 31, of Wichita, took his 15-foot boat out on Marion Reservoir to fish, anchoring near the outlets, only to find that a rising 25 miles per hour wind and large waves were putting him at risk.

According to a report from Corps Ranger Neal Whitaker, Williams found that he was unable to dislodge his anchor, and on attempting to cut it loose, inadvertently turned his boat in the waves breeching it. The report said that Williams left three personal flotation devices in the boat.

Don and Robin Molleker of Marion were travelling across the dam, the report said, when they noticed the boat inside beach buoys in violation of reservoir rules. They turned to report the violation, then noticed Williams there with no boat nearby, and called the 911 dispatcher on a cell phone at 8:09 p.m.

By the time Sheriff Lee Becker, Deputy Dan Kinning, Park Ranger Traci Robb, County Emergency Medical Services Director JoAnn Knak and her husband, Mike, had all stopped by the scene, Williams, who was exhausted, had vomited, and then collapsed, the report said.

The EMS truck with special stokes basket carrier arrived by 8:40, and the report said eight persons joined in to carry Williams up the rip rap of the dam for transport to St. Luke Hospital. The report said Williams recovered from a lowered body temperature of 95 degrees to be released to his wife.

The following day park rangers disentangled Williams’ boat from where its anchor line had become fouled in buoy lines, and he arrived to retrieve it along with two fishing rods, three personal flotation devices and a bait canister. Seat cushions and an engine cowling were reported missing.

Becker reported that the same evening at 5:30 p.m. Officer Randy Brazil and Huddle responded to a citizen’s report of annoying motorcycle noise. Becker said two men were found riding motorcycles on Nighthawk near Canada. The two motorcycles plus two additional dirt bikes found in Canada were reported stolen in Sedgwick County, and since have been returned to their owners.

Becker said Michael Kirkby of Hillsboro and Allen Lee Walker of Haysville were arrested for possession of stolen property, and held in lieu of $10,000 bond in the Marion County Jail. Kirkby has since been released on property bond, he said.

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