Divers search for woman swept into Deerfield River Sunday while tubing

Last modified: Monday, July 07, 2014
CONWAY — Firefighters worked until dusk Sunday evening to recover the body of a woman presumed to have drowned in a tubing accident in the Deerfield River.

Conway Fire Chief Robert Baker said a group of six or seven people were tubing immediately below Trans-
Canada’s Deerfield Number 2 hydro plant dam when one woman fell or was drawn into a vortex.

At 7:45 p.m., Baker said the woman had been underwater for about an hour and a half, but he said the effort was still a rescue operation.

Baker said he believed the group was from out of state. Baker identified the victim as a woman about 26 years old, but couldn’t say more.

Baker said the area below the dam is not a common one for inner-tubing and is dangerous. Divers waited for the flow over the dam to stop in order to enter the turbulent water but ultimately, Baker said, an uncontrolled dam release upstream raised the water level instead of lowering it.

“They searched underwater as far as they could but they only had 2 feet of visibility,” Baker said, and the current became worse with every foot.

The water between the dam and a small rock island is about 25 feet deep and very dangerous, he said.

Multiple agencies assisted Conway, including emergency departments from Greenfield, Turners Falls, Charlemont and Shelburne, and the Northfield Dive Rescue Team.

At about 9 p.m., Baker said the search was a recovery operation and would resume Monday at 6 a.m. The dam is at the base of Power Company Access Road, an extension of Wilder Hill Road.