Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 26th, 2012 at 8:29 am
Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) shared a heroic tale this morning about a man who was riding his bike on the Eastbank Esplanade late last night and heard someone yelling for help and struggling in the Willamette River.
According to the fire department, Dan Sinclair was riding southbound on the Esplanade near the Hawthorne Bridge at about 11:15 pm when he "heard a voice calling for help from the river below." Sinclair stopped, scanned the water, and then noticed someone splashing about 25 yards off shore. Here's more from a fire department statement:
"Sinclair immediately rode his bike the short distance to Portland Fire Station 21 (Eastbank/Hawthorne Bridge) to alert firefighters that someone needed help. Also on shore were two men, Sam Policar and Justin Wisdom, who were sturgeon fishing. While Sinclair went for help, Policar and Wisdom attempted to hook onto the man with their fishing lines to pull him to shore. Fortunately, the river's current pushed the struggling man closer to shore. Wisdom took off his coat, poked one of his coat sleeves through a fence, and the man was able to grab on."
"Dan Sinclair was riding his bicycle along the Eastbank Esplanade headed southbound when he heard a voice calling for help from the river below."
— From a Portland Fire & Rescue statement
As Mr. Wisdom and the swimmer struggled to maintain contact, the firefighters approached in a rescue boat. Then Bill Schimel, a 12-year veteran of PF&R plopped into the water and tried to pull the man on board.
The current was swift, the statement says. "I knew that if I lost my grip on him, he would drift under a massive debris field of logs that was floating just 100 yards downstream and likely be pulled under," said Schimel.
The man was rescued and taken to OHSU for observation as a precaution. Rescue officials still don't know how the man ended up in the water.
Three cheers for Dan Sinclair and for the "eyes on the street" effect of bicycling!