A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

On the riverfront beat, a case of false alarm

Written January 3rd, 2023 by Hasso Hering

Members of the Albany Fire Department’s water rescue team retrieve their boat at Bowman Park Tuesday afternoon.

It looked like a serious situation, and it could have been, with Albany police and the fire department deployed on the banks of the Willamette River and a drone flying overhead.

But as it turned out, nobody was dead.

On a bike ride along the Willamette riverfront just as it started to rain on Tuesday afternoon, three or four police and fire department SUVs caught my attention. They were parked along Water Avenue near Montgomery Street.

Across the tracks and the Dave Clark Riverfront Path, a group of officers were gathered, peering at the water below.

When I stopped and asked, they told me they were keeping an eye on something hung up on a log a few feet from the bank. It kind of looked like a sleeping bag. Was someone inside? That was the question.

A dog walker on the Clark Path had seen the thing and called it in.  On the bank itself, a few feet away, there was a blanket and other stuff. Maybe someone had slept there and rolled into the river?

From the parking lot at the nearby Wheelhouse office building, officers sent up a drone to take a closer look. The drone had just come back when I went by there. One of its handlers said it didn’t look like anything serious.

But to be sure, the fire department water rescue team sprang into action, launching from Bowman Park downstream. By the time I got there on the bike, the team had reported that no, the bag or whatever it was did not contain a body.

Good news all around. But don’t ever think that Albany’s first responders don’t respond in force when they get a potentially serious report. (hh)

This is the scene that caught my attention on Water Avenue Tuesday.


Officers stand by on the bank and keep an eye on the suspicious item in the river below.


And this is the thing that made a dog walker call it in. Caught on a log, it looked like it might have been a sleeping bag with someone inside.

7 responses to “On the riverfront beat, a case of false alarm”

  1. Mike says:

    Thank you first responders.

  2. Mac says:

    Another good reason to get all these “campers” off the riverbanks. Waste of time and money.

  3. hj.anony1 says:

    knock knock. Where are you all? “shadow shut-down”. grbl brbl KNOCK

  4. Bob Woods says:

    Practice makes perfect. If you don’t know, respond assuming there is a real danger to the public. That’s what saves lives.

  5. Jeannette Billings says:

    Thank You, First Responders and Reporter!!!!


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