Near drowning caught on tape



Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:44 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 28 at 12:09 PM

Burnside Bridge jump

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Rescuers on a waverunner in downtown Portland pulled a man from the Willamette River Tuesday morning after he jumped from the Burnside Bridge.

Portland Fire and Rescue spokesman Allen Oswalt says the man apparently didn't realize how fast he would fall and how hard he would hit the water.

The impact with the river gave him quite a shot to the head, making him dazed and confused, according to Oswalt.

The jump was either heard or seen by several people including KGW Photographer Mike Galimanis who shot video of the man struggling to stay afloat.

The man was lucky - help was very nearby and quick to respond - with the Portland Fire Bureau wave runner zipping up within a minute of the call to 911.

Oswalt says even though the plan was a swim - the man was severely disoriented and truly in need of rescue and might have gone under and died if rescuers had been a few minutes slower getting there.

Oswalt says wave runners donated to the department make all the difference in saving lives on Portland's rivers. The first wave runner was donated following the plunge of a car off the Morrison bridge a few years ago.

Following that, the Hays Corporation donated money which purchased a second wave runner. Quick response to river calls has been top of mind at the Portland Fire Bureau after two children went into the water from the Sellwood Bridge - and one died.

The man pulled from the river was taken to the hospital to be checked out. He may also face charges. It's illegal to jump into the river from any of Portland's bridges.