UO Crew Water Rescue: 'It went from being flat water to just terrifying'

17 people were rescued from Dexter Reservoir after their boat filled with water, Mar. 25, 2019. (SBG)

DEXTER, Ore. - Seventeen people from the University of Oregon Rowing Teams were rescued Monday morning when their boats filled with water.

They were pulled from the Dexter Reservoir with no injuries, but many were visibly shaken up.

Three boats hit rough water, forcing members of the UO Crew teams to quickly jump ship.

“I sent two rescue guys on boat in order to help get the victims into the boats and back on the water,” said Lon Dragt, the Lowell Fire Chief.

Lowell, Dexter and Eugene/Springfield fire crews rescued rowers and their coaches from the freezing water.

“We may not have had them too often but we do have water rescues throughout the summer so we try to be ready for any water rescues at any time,” said Dragt.

In a matter of minutes, crews hit rough water with swells up to four feet and they had to jump out and try to put on life vests while they waited for rescue crews.

“The wind just switched directions and starting blowing really, really hard straight down the lake,” said Carlin Otterstedt, the assistant coach of UO Rowing Club. “It went from being flat water to just terrifying.”

Temperatures at the time were in the mid 40s, so officials say the temperature in the water could be cold enough for hypothermia.

Each athlete managed to escape without injuries, and they warmed up and chose to go back to their training retreat instead of the hospital.

“I mean it wasn't that long but it's long enough for people to start really shivering and starting to shut down a little bit,” said Otterstedt.

The men's and women's teams practice on the water twice a day during spring break, prepping for upcoming competition.

Otterstedt says this is their biggest training week of the year.

All of the athletes safely returned to Lundy Elementary, where they stay to practice during spring break. They have a row meet in about two weeks.

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