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Helicopter Plucks Canoeist From River, But One Woman Missing

February 12, 1985

OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) _ A National Guard helicopter pulled a 30-year-old man from the icy Willamette River after his canoe capsized and crashed over Willamette Falls, but a woman companion was missing and presumed drowned Monday.

″They were on the east side of the falls, and they got in an eddy behind the pier there and flipped over,″ said Rick Luhman, who was driving in the area Sunday when the boat capsized.

″From the pier, they just kind of angled down and back toward the head of the falls,″ Luhman said. ″I knew they were in trouble. I ran across the street to call the police, but after that I just came back to watch - there was nothing I could do.″

Dephane Sporrer, 30, of Portland, had not been found by Monday, police said. Her companion, Bruce Herring, 30, of Wenatchee, Wash., was pulled from the water after clinging to a log at the head of the 30-foot-high falls. He was treated for hypothermia at Willamette Falls Hospital and released Sunday.

A marine patrol boat and two police divers looked for the woman without success Sunday and Monday, said Oregon City police Capt. John W. Bohlen. He said the water is extremely turbulent under the falls and there were no immediate plans to send divers into the water.

″We got a blue knapsack, which had been in the canoe, but not her body,″ Bohlen said. ″We will keep looking for her as long as is reasonable.″

Herring was pulled from the water by a helicopter of the 304th Aerospace Rescue Squadron of the Army Reserve’s National Guard, said Lt. Col. William E. Hewes.

″We hovered, being careful that our wash didn’t push him on over, and Senior Airman John Harkness went down on a hoist,″ Hewes said. ″Harkness was strapped to a forest penetrator (a rescue device with four folding seats) and made his way across logs to the man. It was awkward because of the weight of the device, 35 pounds, but he got to the victim and grabbed him in a bear hug and strapped him so we could pull them up.″

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