Swimmer prompts emergency response to Columbia River

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

Updated: August 9, 2013, 9:21 PM

 

A man swimming in the Columbia River on Friday morning spooked a nearby fisherman, prompting boats to respond to what was reported as a possible drowning.

Ralph Heiser, 48, of Vancouver was fishing at Wintler Park when he saw a middle-aged man wearing black shorts, blue shorts and a watch on his wrist get into the river. When the man started bobbing and pulling at his hair, he was alarmed.

“I started yelling at him, ‘Are you OK?’ he didn’t respond,” Heiser said. “I was just concerned.”

Heiser called 911 and boats from the Vancouver Fire Department, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Port of Portland responded to the incident.

Crews on one of the boats contacted the man and learned he was just out for a swim and let him continue, Vancouver police said.