Rescuers pull woman from Rock River above Oregon dam

Oregon fire crews rescued a woman from the Rock River after she entered the water above the Oregon dam at around 5 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10. She  was within 200 feet from the dam when she was rescued.

OREGON – A woman was rescued from the Rock River in a dramatic effort by fire crews after an alert homeowner saw her in the river above the Oregon dam and immediately called for help.

A homeowner in the 500 block of North Fourth Street reported the woman in the river at 5:11 a.m. Dec. 10, Oregon Fire Chief Mike Knoup said in a news release.

“Oregon police advised that she was in the middle of the west channel,” Knoup said. “Due to the low head dam, crews were immediately deployed with swift-water suits into the river, but due to her being a few hundred feet away from the shore crews could not get to her while she floated down the river.”

The Oregon dam is classified as a “low head dam” making it difficult to see the dam when on the river at water level.

Knoup said one of the fire department’s boats was put in the river above the dam from Kiwanis Park, located behind Conover Square, on the west bank of the river.

“Boat 5382 was deployed into the river with two swift-water technicians. The crew was able to make contact with the victim less than 200 feet about the dam,” Knoup said.

The 32-year-old Oregon woman was rescued from the river, brought to shore and then transported to KSB hospital. She remained in stable condition during transport, Knoup said, noting he believed she was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Knoup said the air temperature at time of the rescue was 34 degrees. “I don’t think the water was much warmer than that,” he said Tuesday, noting that rescuers were working in the dark before the sun had risen. “Our swift-water training really made a difference in this rescue.”

Oregon Police Chief Joe Brooks said the incident was classified as a “medical assist” with the woman somehow entering the river above the dam.

“She was in the water for about 45 minutes,” he said, and his officer could see her swimming. “Everyone did a great job working together.”

Knoup agreed.

“The patient was successfully saved due to a quick 911 call made by a citizen who heard the victim call for help, fantastic work by our dispatch, quick actions by fire and EMS personnel and the help of the Oregon Police Department and the Ogle County Sheriff’s Office.”

Earleen Hinton

Earleen oversees production and content of 9 community weeklies and has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.