Rescuers revive woman who jumped into Alabama River

A family member of the woman who jumped from a cliff into the Alabama River Monday afternoon in Selma, was overcome with grief thinking her loved one had died.  Thanks to the quick action on the part of the Selma Fire Department and the Selma Police Department, the woman who jumped is alive and was kept overnight at Vaughan Regional Medical Center. -- Tim Reeves

A family member of the woman who jumped from a cliff into the Alabama River Monday afternoon in Selma, was overcome with grief thinking her loved one had died. Thanks to the quick action on the part of the Selma Fire Department and the Selma Police Department, the woman who jumped is alive and was kept overnight at Vaughan Regional Medical Center. — Tim Reeves

By Ashely Johnson and Katie Wood

The Selma Times-Journal

 

A woman who jumped off a rocky bank of the Alabama River Monday near Water Avenue was rescued then revived after an alleged suicide attempt.

When the Selma Police Department was dispatched to the corner of Water Avenue and Church Street near the Carneal ArtsRevive building shortly after 1:30 p.m., witnesses told police officers they saw a woman take off her shoes and disappear behind a cement barricade towards the river.

The woman, who still remains unidentified, was rescued from the water by police officers and firemen, but they said they couldn’t have done so without the help of a few private citizens and their pontoon boat.

“We called the rescue squad when we responded to the scene, but we knew it was going to take them a while,” Lt. John Brock of the Selma Police Department said. “So I got one of the officers to go down to the marina, just hoping that there was someone down there with a boat — and there was.”

J.R. Lowe, a 23-year-old International Paper employee, was just putting his boat in the Selma Marina for a day on the river with his family, when he said three SPD officers asked to commandeer his pontoon boat.

“We had just put the boat in maybe three or four minutes (before the police showed up),” Lowe said. “They came down there and asked if they could borrow the boat, so we said, ‘Come on.’”

Lowe said he thought the worst when they first approached the victim, who was floating near the bank.

“Luckily she was facing up. I guess it just knocked her out from hitting the water,” he said. “She was floating, and all of the police officers grabbed her and [we all] helped pull her in.”

Lowe said two of the officers on board began CPR on the woman, who appeared unconscious, once they pulled her in.

“I thought she was out of it. I thought she was dead when they pulled her in the boat. But they did CPR and they revived her,” Lowe said. “She spit up water and stuff on the boat — it was a miracle really. It shocked me; I didn’t think something like that could happen at all.”

Lowe said they immediately headed back for the marina where an ambulance was waiting. The rescue team, he said, was just putting their boat in at the marina as they were pulling back in with the victim.

“We were really lucky we were there at the right time,” he said, noting if they had not been there when they were, it might have been too late for her.

The woman was taken to Vaughan Regional Medical Center where she stayed overnight and will receive mental health treatment. Officers said she was stable enough to respond when they asked her questions on the way to the hospital.

Selma Fire Chief Mike Stokes said his team was ready to rescue the woman with or without a boat and were in place to do so when Lowe’s boat arrived.

“We call on all resources to get the job done,” Stokes said. “Today the safest way and the fastest way was using whoever that private citizen was who said, ‘Hey, we can use my boat.”

Stokes recently led his team through rescue training, which involved repelling down the steep banks of the Alabama River — in the exact location of Monday’s incident.

“When the call came in at that particular location there was no doubt in my mind that the guys at the Selma Fire Department would have been able to be successful (in her rescue),” he said, noting they had trained in the same spot for the same scenario.

Selma Fire Capt. Jeremy Salter agreed and said because of the training at that particular location, his team already knew where to put their trucks and already had equipment out to start taking team members down the bank.

“Everyone did their job and we were able to save a life today,” he said, adding it was lucky the pontoon boat showed up when it did, meaning he didn’t have to put any of his men in danger going down the hill — even though they were ready and willing.

“I’m tickled to death at the outcome. We praise God that everything turned out the way it did,” Stokes said. “Everyone did everything 100 percent correctly. The training is paying off.”