About 3:00 pm Monday afternoon, a driver on the Hwy 82 Bypass called 911, stating that she had just seen a man on an overturned boat in the Tombigbee River trying to paddle to shore. Columbus Fire and Rescue quickly mobilized and rushed to the bridge to try to find the unlucky boater. After a search of the area, they found nothing and it was assumed that the call was a hoax.
One unit was dispatched to the boat landing on 1st Street S in case boats were needed in the water for a rescue. He was greeted by the sight of Stan Murray, paddling his way downstream on a “surf board”.
Murray was out for a relaxing paddleboard trip on the river while his wife walked on the Riverwalk. He put his board in the water at the boat ramp and paddled upriver to the Bypass bridge, turned around and paddled back. It was on the return check that the passerby spotted him and called 911.
Though he was out for almost an hour in the nearly freezing water, in the rain and wind, Murray said that only his (bare) feet were cold. Stan Murray is an experienced river man, having spent the last ten years paddling the river in his rowing shell. He usually stays north of the lock and dam, but decided to try a lower part of the river this week. [Back in August, he took the board out to Orange Beach, Ala. and got plenty of stares. – JD] Murray said it took about 35 minutes to paddle up to the bridge, but the current made his return trip much quicker. He said he understands why the passerby called 911. He says, “It was something unusual on the river that you don’t see.”
Murray heard all the sirens from the fire trucks while he was paddling. He was worried that someone was out hunting or fishing and fell in the water. He was surprised to find out that all the commotion was for him. The paddler says he appreciates the concern and thanks the driver who called 911 and the responders that came out to “save” him.