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Boaters capsize near dam; rescuers save couple, but dog drowns

Rescuers save couple, but their dog drowns

OREGON – Two people escaped injury Saturday morning but their dog died when the boat they were fishing from capsized in the Rock River below the Oregon dam.

Boaters Jessica Long, 26, and Nathan Long, 31, both of Streator, were pulled from the river by Tom Olmstrom, 42, and Brian Gavin, 41, both of DeKalb, who were canoeing on the river when the incident occurred at around 10:20 a.m.

“The boat sunk and two people and their dog ended up in the river,” Oregon Fire Chief Don Heller said. “Two people in a canoe were just paddling up the river and they happened to see them and they helped get them to shore. The dog perished.”

Heller said the boaters already had reached the shore when fire rescue personnel arrived.

“They had already been picked up from the river,” Heller said. “They were very lucky.”

Oregon Police Chief Darin DeHaan said witnesses told police it appeared as if one of the boat’s occupants got a fishing line stuck and they moved closer to the dam’s west wall to retrieve the line.

The boat was facing north and began to turn when the water rushed over it, filling it and causing it to tip over, DeHaan said.

“The male surfaced about 30 feet south of the dam. The female was held under water for about 30 seconds and then she surfaced,” DeHaan said.

Neither were wearing life jackets, DeHaan said.

“The individuals in the canoe paddled out to the victims and pulled them into the canoe, taking them to shore and turning them over to fire and EMS personnel,” DeHaan said.

DeHaan urged visitors to be cautious and to heed warning signs posted near the dam.

“This incident is another reminder to all of us that the water conditions around our dam are dangerous and must be respected,” DeHaan said. “We are saddened by the loss of the family pet, but due to the quick actions of other citizens, two lives were saved that day.” 

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