River surfer (stock photo). (Photo by Simon Hofmann/Getty Images for BMW)
Photo: Simon Hofmann/Getty Images
Photo: Simon Hofmann/Getty Images

Surfing in Ohio? 911 calls pour in as men ride waves on raging river

But surfers Shannon Thomas and Josh Wright were having the times of their lives.

“I had a blast. It was probably one of the best surfs I’ve had in a while,” Thomas said.

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Had an amazing surf downtown Dayton today at 20,700 cfs which ended with lots of flashy lights because they got (4) 911 calls that we were in distress.

Posted by Shannon Thomas on Monday, November 6, 2017

The professional river surfer was about to begin his last surf when ambulances, fire trucks, police and park rangers — and a water rescue boat — arrived near the River Run drop just upstream from the Monument Avenue bridge.

“Basically, people aren’t educated enough,” said Thomas, 32. “They see somebody in the river and they immediately think they are drowning. They can’t fathom why someone would be out there on a board surfing.”

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Thomas, a 2003 Fairmont High School graduate, said he and friend Wright were taking all the proper precautions: using a buddy system, wearing helmets, wetsuits, PDFs and outfitted with leashes that could quickly be released in case of entanglement.

“At no point were me or my buddy in distress,” said Thomas, who tapped his helmet at the arriving emergency responders, an international symbol that one is not in danger.

After exiting the river, Thomas said he had a 20-minute talk with the authorities.

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“They were basically threatening me with inciting or inducing panic,” said Thomas.

Thomas, who is sponsored by Badfish Stand Up Paddle, was not cited because he broke no laws, he said.

The wave created by the unusually high water is on par with one of the best river features in the nation, Thomas said.

“At that level it’s very similar to the Glenwood Springs, Colorado, wave, which is probably one of the most famous waves in the country,” he said.

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