Alabama dad drowns while kayaking with his children in floodwaters

Published 2:33 pm Monday, September 20, 2021

A man who was kayaking with his children following heavy rains saved the kids when the current became too strong but couldn’t get himself out of the water and drowned, officials said Monday.

Johnny Henderson III, 35, of Hazel Green was pronounced dead after emergency workers located his body in flood waters on Sunday, Coroner Tyler Berryhill said. Henderson was the second person from Alabama to die in weekend flooding.

“He was kayaking with his children near their home when the water current became very strong pulling them near a drainage pipe. He was able to get his children to safety from the kayak before later succumbing to the current of the dangerous waters,” Berryhill said in a statement.

Hazel Green Elementary School shared on social media that Henderson was the husband of a first-grade teacher there, and additional social workers and counselors were on hand.

Much of north central Alabama received heavy rains over the weekend, and the National Weather Service said Huntsville got a record 3.31 inches (8.41 centimeters) on Sunday, far above the old record of 1.9 inches (4.83 centimeters) set in 1953.

Also on Sunday, searchers in Tuscaloosa found the body of man whose sports-utility vehicle was overwhelmed by water during flash flooding on Saturday. The body of Kelvin Watford, 40, was found about a quarter-mile downstream from where his vehicle was found, news outlets reported.

Flood watches and warnings covered northern sections of Alabama and Mississippi, most of Tennessee and northwest Georgia. The rains are associated with remnants of Hurricane Nicholas, which made landfall on the Gulf Coast last week.