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University of Oregon crew team rescued at Dexter Reservoir

The team reported high winds and four-foot swells when their boats took on water.

Posted: Mar 25, 2019 11:04 AM
Updated: Mar 25, 2019 6:29 PM

LOWELL, Ore. -- A University of Oregon rowing team was rescued at Dexter Reservoir Monday morning when their three boats took on water.

The crew team’s 16 rowers and their coach were in the water after the boats started sinking in four-foot swells and strong winds. The team had been training for the upcoming Covered Bridge Regatta.

First responders dispatched two boats to rescue them, and Lowell Fire Chief Lon Dragt said other boats operated by members of the university helped during the rescue.

"Originally they had one boat on the water, and they came back and grabbed a second skiff," Dragt said. "They made about four trips total to get people back in."

Assistant coach Carlin Otterstedt, who was in a fourth boat, helped ferry the athletes back to shore and said when they first went out, the water was calm.

"I've seen conditions change pretty quickly on this lake before but not that dramatically. It's never gone from flat to that dangerous that quickly," Otterstedt said.

Dragt said one of his biggest concerns was hypothermia and the team was taken to waiting ambulances so they could warm up. Dragt said everyone on the team declined further medical treatment.

The South Eugene Rowing Club was also on the lake for their own practice, and they helped drain the boats that were recovered by first responders.

Linda Torkelson, whose high-school-aged son is on that team, said this incident isn't going to stop her son from going out on the lake.

"They got everyone out safely and life is risk I guess," Torkelson said. "They're pretty cautious about when they would let them go out."

In a statement, Molly Blancett, the Interim Spokesperson for the UO, wrote: "We are relieved to hear that the University of Oregon’s Club Rowing Team is safe. Staff members from Club Sports were on scene shortly after to offer students support. We will continue to monitor the athletes and coaches and provide assistance as requested."

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