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Tugboat rescue saves two clinging to overturned boat at Columbia River

Photo: Morrow County Sheriff's Office

MORROW COUNTY, Ore. - Two people from Umatilla have been rescued at the Columbia River after responders said their boat overturned, leaving them in cold, rough waters.

The Morrow County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) received a call from the US Coast Guard around 6 p.m., Sept. 11 of two people in the water clinging to an overturned boat. A crew at the Tidewater Tugboat known as Ryan Point spotted the incident despite choppy, difficult to see conditions, according to reports.

The tugboat crew arrived to find the victims Derek Alan Ness, 38, and Laurie Dawn Merrell, 47, were hypothermic and extremely weak from being in the rough waters for three hours, authorities said.

Many personnel assisted in rescuing the couple and getting them to the Tidewater dock in Boardman.

Medics took the two boaters to two waiting ambulances and the firefighters and the tugboat crew took the small boat to shore and back on to its trailer.

Authorities say a marine investigation for this incident is ongoing.

The sheriff’s office marine patrol would like to remind boaters to make sure to always carry the required safety equipment and to be aware of the conditions on the water.

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