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Crew rescues pair stranded on snag.

Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - A group of river riders' plans for a fun day on the McKenzie River ended Wednesday afternoon when their trip downriver hit a snag - literally.

The inner tube of 12-year-old Airlie Strickland got hung up on a half-submerged fallen tree about 100 yards below the Hayden Bridge boat ramp.

As she clung to the tree without a life jacket, her friend, 25-year-old Michael Snyder, floated to the tree and tried to free her. But Snyder got stranded, too, also without a life jacket.

Other members of their group - including Strickland's mother - made it to shore and called for help at 3:48 p.m. Members of the Springfield fire department and the Lane County sheriff's marine patrol responded.

As onlookers watched from the river bank, the emergency personnel tried to reach the pair by boat. When that didn't work, two Springfield firefighters trained in swift water rescue swam across the water. They gave the stranded pair life jackets and led them to safety.

The area is a trouble spot for rescuers because of the number of snags in the water, Deputy Paul Vitus said. Low water levels exacerbate the problem by exposing more debris, he said.

Emergency workers have responded to several similar incidents in the past couple of weeks, he said. The county has seen two drownings and several near-drownings so far this summer. He said Strickland was lucky to escape unharmed.

"On a scale of one to 10, this was probably an eight" in terms of danger, he said.

Oregon law doesn't require life jackets on inner tubes, but Vitus said it's always wise, especially for children 12 or younger.

CAPTION(S):

H e l p a r r i v e s Chris Pietsch / The Register-Guard Airlie Strickland inches along a snag with the help of Springfield firefighter Andy Young as Michael Snyder (second from right) and firefighter Kenny Linden wait. Strickland and Snyder became stranded just below the Hayden Bridge boat landing during a float in the McKenzie River.
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Title Annotation:Accidents; A 12-year-old and a 25-year-old get hung up on a log during an inner tube float down the McKenzie River
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 29, 2004
Words:339
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