Man Falls Into Zumbro River After His Inflatable Chair Capsizes

Updated: 06/21/2014 10:55 PM
Created: 06/21/2014 5:55 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Rescue crews found a man clinging  to a bridge pillion in the water under the South Broadway bridge near 6th St. SW on the Zumbro River in Rochester.

The Rochester Fire Department (RFD) directed the victim to remain where he was. A rescue boat was deployed from a short distance downstream.  Additional RFD crews were staged along the riverbank downstream with rope throw bags should the victim wind up in the water and travel downstream further.  Rescue boats initial approach was hampered by low water.  While repositioning and attempting another path to the victim, in deeper water, the victim attempted to walk towards the northerly bank.  After a few steps the individual hit a drop off and was completely submerged momentarily.  Upon re-surfacing he attempted to grab a concrete partition but was unsuccessful.  The rescue boat crew was able to grab the victim at that point and pull him safely inside their boat.   The RFD crew then transported the victim to the shore a short distance downstream where Gold Cross Ambulance Service was able to evaluate him.

Other:  Victim had been rafting on the Zumbro River when his craft capsized after traveling over the low head dam.  Victim was fortunate to have escaped the backwash area below the dam and was able to make it to the bridge pillion for temporary refuge.  These low head dams are often referred to as “drowning machines”.  They can catch victims from either downstream, when they get too close, and they can catch people by surprise from upstream if they are unnoticed.  The backwash area will often trap a victim in an endless tumbling cycle dragging them to towards the river bottom and then back towards the surface only to pull the victim back down again.  RFD would ask that the public use extreme caution while recreating on waterways particularly now after recent heavy rainfalls.  Water levels are higher than normal and moving much faster making conditions unpredictable.  Additionally debris tends to be present in larger quantities after flooding has occurred.  We also would remind the public that navigating the Zumbro River inside the city limits, as it is considered part of the park system, is prohibited regardless of conditions per City Ordinance Chapter 45B.15.

Rochester firefighters rescued a man who fell into the Zumbro River close to 2:00 pm today.