Polk County, Ore. – Crews have suspended the search and recovery mission for a Vancouver woman who went missing in the Willamette River while floating with friends. Officials say Tracy Allen and her group were all tethered together on the Willamette…floating just south of Independence when they hit a root-ball of a tree and flipped over. Everyone made it back to shore…except for Allen. Crews say the 37-year-old was wearing a life-jacket and she knows how to swim. The search and recover efforts were called off last night due to dangerous conditions.
Read more from Polk Co. Sheriff’s Office
At 4:59 PM Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Water Rescue Team pulled their divers from the the water and ended their search for Ms. Allen due to hazardous conditions. Team Leader Sgt. Marc Griffith advised that it was simply too high risk to justify further searching. The current at the location was estimated to be about 8 knots which translates to just over 13 feet per second, fast enough to stress the tethers they were using and adversely affect other equipment. Maybe even more concerning was the debris from trees and roots littering the area. It was described as looking similar to “a handful of matches that were dropped.” The debris was impossible to safely negotiate without putting divers in jeopardy.
Sheriff Mark Garton was briefed on the situation and based upon the many years of search and rescue experience on scene and a lack of other options, the Sheriff suspended all search and recovery operations until further notice. Family was notified and while understandably saddened by the news, understood the reasoning behind his decision. They expressed their gratitude for the work that had been done by all involved. The family has requested that their privacy be respected and that the media not attempt contact.
Efforts to determine any other possible options will be made over the coming days and should something possible to carry out be identified, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office will reevaluate the suspension of recovery operations.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office would like to publicly thank each and every agency that assisted with this incident and acknowledge just how important that help was in order to effect a proper search.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office assisted by Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Benton County Sheriff’s Office and the US Coast Guard reinitiated search and rescue operations early Sunday morning, 09-01-19, in the attempt to locate a missing woman on the Willamette River. Missing since overturning her float tube Saturday afternoon, 37 year old Tracy Allen has yet to be located. After deploying every possible resource available without success, Sheriff Mark Garton made the decision to change the focus of the operation to that of recovery.
Utilizing two patrol boats operated by Polk County and one from Benton County, divers from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Water Rescue Team will be deploying in the area where Ms. Allen was last seen. It is suspected that even though Ms. Allen was outfitted with a life vest at the time she went into the water, the heavy current flowing into and around a large debris field made up of trees and roots was substantial enough to hold her under water, particularly if snagged.
Though the area to search has been deemed potentially very hazardous, Clackamas County is currently on scene and about to commence recovery operations. Polk County Fire District No. 1 has provided a unit with medically trained personnel to be on scene during operations.