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Kayakers get caught on the Susquehanna during severe storm

What was supposed to be a fun float down the river turned into a frightening experience during Saturday's severe weather.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — After a long day in the sun, Harrisburg resident Matt Simmons was looking forward to kicking back in a kayak on Saturday night.

"It looked like it was going to be a beautiful, wonderful, fun evening," Simmons said.

That lasted about 20 minutes.

"In the blink of an eye things just changed," Simmons said.

The severe storms that battered the Harrisburg area rolled in while Simmons and his group were on the river; hail and high winds left the group scrambling.

"Ping, ping, ping," Simmons recalled. "And then the wind picked up."

Simmons quickly found himself capsized in the river, while his group was stuck on an island during the Saturday night storm.

"We all started paddling feverishly to the island the guide told us to," Enola resident Marci Cover said. "We just kind of sat there for a solid five to seven minutes and hunkered down."  

Simons was the first to make it to City Island after winding up in the water.

"My instincts from being a lifeguard as a teenager kicked in," Simmons said. "'Where is everybody? Okay. Can they see me? I'm waving my paddle.'"

Harrisburg River Rescue was called, as Cover and the others swam to shore.

"We just saw lights up here, so we were like, our stomach sank because we didn't know if people were being taken to the hospital," Mechanicsburg resident Jules Boardman expressed.

Everyone made it out okay, with a few scrapes, bruises and a wild story to tell.

"I'm just glad we're all okay," Cover said.

"I just wanted a beer when we were done. I just ran up to the bar like 'I just needed a drink' right then and there," Simmons said. "I waited a bit and then I finally got my beer and everything turned out okay." 

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