Winterhawks player saves Willamette kayaker

An alert Taylor Peters of the Portland Winterhawks rescued a kayaker on the Willamette River.


by Michael Berk, KGW Staff

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Posted on January 5, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 5 at 10:53 AM

PORTLAND -- Taylor Peters apparently doesn’t need the water to be frozen to perform brilliant, heroic actions.

On New Year’s Day, the Winter Hawks’ forward had just finished dinner with the family that houses him during the hockey season. Then, a relaxing day of watching football turned on a dime.

The screams came from the opposite bank of the Willamette, and Peters wasn’t sure what to think.

“It’s New Year’s Day, people are out having a good time, so I didn’t know,” he said.

But it didn’t take long for him to figure out, this wasn’t your average New Years’ reveler.

“We jumped in the kayaks, took off in their direction and I heard the man calling and got there first,” he said, recalling the dramatic river rescue that would ensue.

“I’m not an experienced kayaker,” he admitted, “but I’m good enough, I was able to get across in two or three minutes.”

And not a minute too soon. A distressed kayaker had capsized and might have drowned if not for Taylor and a family member with whom he lives.

“I think it’s instinctual," he said. "You hear someone in trouble and it’s either, 'I’m going to help this person, or someone else will help them.’ We decided to be proactive about it.”

Peters pulled the man into his kayak and brought him to a dock where Coast Guard members were standing by. Taylor never got the last name of the man he saved and he’s not expecting to be feted for his heroics.

“He was very thankful,” Peters said, “He was overjoyed that he was ok. That’s all I really needed to hear.” But Peter’s week was only just beginning.

From the river to the rink, he did it all, performing an on-ice rescue as well. On Tuesday, he lifted the ‘Hawks to a win over Moose Jaw with a goal in overtime.

“Yeah, it’s been a good year so far,” he joked.

A year, which never would’ve had a chance to start, for a man Peters barely knows.