Former Cincinnati Bengals star Cris Collinsworth rescued after floating restaurant where he was dining was swept away

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PAUL MARK

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  • Former Cincinnati Bengals star Cris Collinsworth rescued after floating restaurant where he was dining was swept away

Former Cincinnati Bengals star Cris Collinsworth rescued after floating restaurant where he was dining was swept away

Former Cincinnati Bengals star wide receiver Cris Collinsworth was aboard Jeff Ruby’s Waterfront restaurant having a dinner of seafood and shrimp when rising floodwaters caused the barge on which it was built to break free from its moorings. The barge then drifted downstream about 100 feet before crashing against the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge, one of the many that connect northern Kentucky with Cincinnati.

Cpt. Chris Kiely of the Covington Fire Department said that diners at the restaurant called rescuers from cell phones. All of the patrons were rescued, being led off of the barge one at a time while wearing life jackets on a makeshift bridge made of ropes and ladders. 

Footage on television showed diners pacing back and forth on the barge as rescuers attempted to make a bridge that would allow the patrons to cross the swirling, junk-filled water safely.

Another patron, Kathy Kinane, told a local news station exactly what happened. She and her husband, Bill, were dining with another couple when they felt a small bump. Bill looked out of the window and saw that they were floating away.

"That was not a good thing," she said. "We said, 'Let's get up and leave.'"

A crowd had gathered at the door and the patrons could see that the walkway to and from the boat had broken loose. The power stayed on, which helped prevent a panic, according to Kathy. The current was very swift but the Kinanes had eaten at the restaurant before when the river rose and were not worried. Until their restaurant started flowing away, that is.

The Kinanes had worn masks and snorkels to take the manager by surprise, because of the rising waters. They returned them to their car but later joked that they might have come in handy.

"We were joking about the river," she said. "Well, the joke's on us now."

Kiely saw that Collinsworth was among the rescued after the rescue was over. Collinsworth has been associated with Ruby’s for a long time now with some restaurants serving “Steak Collinsworth.”

Collinsworth spent all eight years of his National Football League (NFL) career with the Bengals. After being picked 37th overall in the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft because of his incredible height and agility, he had over 1,000 receiving yards four times, in 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1986. He was also named to the Pro Bowl in three straight years, from 1981 to 1983. He was much taller than the cornerbacks that covered him at six feet five inches and was fast as well.

After the NFL, Collinsworth became a renowned sports radio talk show host and later became a television personality.