Missing woman saved from stream by Oneonta police, firefighters

Julie Lewis | The Daily Star Oneonta firefighters load a patient who was rescued from the Mill Race under the James F. Lettis Highway in Catella Park, and Oneonta Police officers are seen on Tuesday.

An Oneonta woman rescued from the Mill Race under the James Lettis Highway overpass in Catella Park late Tuesday afternoon is recovering at Fox Hospital.

Officers from the Oneonta Police Department had been looking for the 34-year-old woman, who had been reported missing, since noon Tuesday, OPD Lieutenant Christopher Witzenburg said. He declined to give the woman's name.

Officer Kristen Lapointe found the woman wandering around near Fair Street and attempted to make contact with her, Witzenburg said.

Witzenburg said when Lapointe made contact, the woman attempted to get away from her by wading into the water.

Lapointe attempted to rescue her but was advised to back out because she had no safety equipment, Witzenburg said. 

The Oneonta Fire Department had already been called to assist the OPD while the woman was near Fair Street, OFD Fire Captain Michael Mancini said. 

Once advised that she'd left that location and entered the water, Oneonta firefighters arrived with water-rescue equipment, Mancini said. 

Witzenburg said the woman refused to take the rope at first, but after a current swept her about 50 feet away toward another rope, she started to pull herself out of the water. 

Oneonta firefighters William Plymell and Chuck Barringer lifted the woman out of the water. 

"She was physically taken out of the water by Plymell and Barringer," Witzenburg said. "If it was just us, we would've been cold and wet and potentially injured."

Witzenburg said the woman was in the water for about 10 minutes before being lifted out. OFD members then treated her for cold-weather exposure and sent her in an ambulance to Fox Hospital, Mancini said. She was not charged with any crime; Witzenburg said the OPD hadn't determined why she attempted to flee.

Witzenburg said the woman is being treated at Fox Hospital for "cold-related injuries." He said she was conscious when she was pulled out of the water and able to communicate.

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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