CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Every once in a while, a story comes along that leaves us scratching our heads and saying, "What were they thinking?"
Case in point: The bizarre account of two Maryland men who decided to channel their inner Huckleberry Finns and raft down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers - on a floating boat dock without steering or propulsion.
The good news is that they survived. Natural Resources Police officers plucked them from the Ohio before they became hood ornaments for a barge tow, thank goodness.
The incident occurred June 18, a rainy day in the Parkersburg area.
According to a Division of Natural Resources news release, a local 911 dispatcher called the agency's District 6 office to report two individuals drifting down the Ohio "on a runaway floating dock."
Two officers - Capt. Dave Trader and Sgt. Chris McKnight - launched a patrol boat and headed out into the river to check out the situation. They found the dock drifting in mid-channel near the tip of Blennerhassett Island.
"At first we didn't see anyone on the dock, but upon closer inspection we found two males huddled, wet and shivering, beneath a camouflaged tarp," Trader said. "To add to the problem, we saw a barge approaching our location from the south. We quickly gave the men life jackets from our boat and told them to put them on."
The two men reportedly were too fatigued to tie off the rope the officers tossed to them, so McKnight jumped from the patrol boat to the dock and helped them secure the line. Trader and McKnight towed the dock to nearby Belpre, Ohio, where Belpre City Police officers helped complete the rescue.
The dock turned out to be from the Little Kanawha River, which flows into the Ohio at Parkersburg. The two Marylanders, identified as 22-year-old Tyler Jennings and 21-year-old Quinn Porter, apparently had cut the dock free from the riverbank and had planned to ride it downriver to the Mississippi.