Deputies in Oregon will resume recovery efforts Tuesday morning for a Vancouver woman who fell into the Willamette River near Buena Vista Park south of Independence, Ore., on Saturday.
The Polk County (Ore.) Sheriff’s Office said Tracy Allen, 37, was floating the river with friends Saturday afternoon when the group’s interconnected float tubes ran into a large root ball snag off the west shore of Wells Island.
On Sunday, the Clackamas County (Ore.) Sheriff’s Office Water Rescue Team pulled its divers from the water and ended its search due to hazardous conditions. Polk County Deputy Sgt. Marc Griffith advised that it was too high risk to justify searching further. All search and recovery operations were suspended until further notice.
In addition to fast-moving water, debris from trees and roots littered the area, which made it hard for divers to navigate the area.
Those conditions have not improved, but the Polk County Sheriff’s Office has decided to move forward with searching an area northeast of the Buena Vista Ferry crossing, Capt. Jeff Isham said.
“Nothing’s really changed. It’s just with (Allen’s) last known location, and the divers’ information, we want to get in there and make a concerted effort,” Isham said.
Before divers pulled out of the river Sunday, they believed they found an underwater pocket where Allen may be trapped, Isham said.
The Clackamas County water rescue team will once again be helping, but it’s unlikely it will go into the water. Deputies plan to use a boat to get close to the location, and then they will use chainsaws to cut away trees, according to the captain.
“It’s pretty cluttered, so we’ll try and get in closer,” Isham said.
Allen was wearing a life vest at the time she went into the water, but “the heavy current flowing into and around a large debris field made up of trees and roots was substantial enough to hold her under water, particularly if snagged,” deputies previously said.
Two women floating with Allen were able to get to shallow water and make it to the island, but Allen was not seen again after going into the water. Two other women who had separated from the series of float tubes were able to avoid the snag, according to the sheriff’s office.