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Firefighters Save River-Swept Man

By Aaryn Frazier, October 09, 2018

Ottumwa Fire Department responded to a call about a boat in the river that lost power at 7:05 p.m. on Monday, October 8.

Tom Myers, like many others who stay down at the river lots, was attempting to get his boat out of the river because of the rising speed and high water levels. Before he could completely remove the boat, the engine died and Myers was swept down the river. The current was taking him towards the Ottumwa Water Works hydro plant when he became stuck in the bramble underneath the Turkey Island bridge.

Ottumwa Fire Department immediately responded with two rescue boats and fire department staff, according to a City of Ottumwa press release. They also said one boat with two firefighters made contact with Myers where he was caught south of Gateway Drive, and one fire boat with two Ottumwa Firefighters capsized due to the strong current of the Des Moines River.

However, both firefighters reached the shore downstream.

Myers’ wife told Ottumwa Radio that her biggest concern was for her husband’s health. Myers has muscular dystrophy so his arms and legs don’t quite work as well as they could. Ultimately, after a joint effort, he was saved and no one was hurt.

The city reminds everyone that this time of year, when there is a substantial amount of rain and the rivers is very high; citizens need to realize it is not the time to be out on the river.

Wapello County Sheriff’s Department, Deran’s Towing and the Canadian Pacific Railroad assisted in the rescue and preventing what could have been a tragic situation.

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