Woman in critical condition after van rolls into river at Willamette Park

Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 12:55 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - A woman is in critical condition after she was rescued from a fully submerged van in the Willamette River on Wednesday.

The 911 call came in at about 11:15 a.m. The caller said a van was fully submerged in the water.

Portland Fire & Rescue says a man and woman were in the process of launching their boat. The man was already standing outside the van, but the van somehow rolled back into the water, leaving the woman trapped inside.

Elle Barnes was a witness to the incident.

“There was a young woman with two dogs came running up the dock and she was screaming there’s a car in the water and there’s somebody in the car. There were several Portland city workers who are here they all went running down there,” Barnes said.

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When fire crews arrived, the van was under water. They broke a car window but couldn’t reach the woman trapped inside. Instead, they were forced to use tow straps and ropes to pull the van back out of the water.

PF&R said the woman was rescued about 15 minutes after first crews arrived.

Barnes said the van had “apparently slipped out of gear. The van, the boat trailer and the boat all went into the water. I keep seeing him holler ‘my wife!’ and trying to get off the stretcher and get back into the water emotional.”

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Dan Riedl met the couple prior to accident, helped them at the kiosk to park.

“They said that it was their first time and that they had the boat,” says Riedl.

Fire crews said they believe the woman had an air pocket to breath in for the 15 minutes it took to rescue her. She is now in the hospital in critical condition, and the man is in stable condition, PF&R said.

Fire crews say if you are out using a boat, to put a wheel chock or wooden blocks on the rear tires to keep a vehicle from rolling.