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Rowers rescue PSU crew coach

The Willamette River can be peaceful and picturesque, even for the athletes who train on it. But Lewis & Clark rowing coach Tessa Spillane and some of her crew members came across something stressful during training runs last Tuesday.

As his motorized launch boat spun in circles, Portland State crew coach Joel Rosinbum flailed away in the churning waters, trying to reach shore.

Good thing somebody noticed him and radioed to Spillane, who, with help, pulled the fatigued Rosinbum from the 45-degree water just south of the Sellwood Bridge.

'There was some divine intervention there,' Spillane says. 'He was conscious, trying to swim to shore, but he wasn't making any headway. It was very scary for those of us trying to get him out and for him. In conversations later, he said he was definitely glad we came when we did. He was shellshocked, definitely shuddering and probably hypothermic. Another five or 10 minutes, he would have been in much tougher shape.'

Rosinbum, a former University of Portland student and crew member, apparently had run his boat into a submerged log, and the impact launched him from the boat. The throttle on his boat seemed to be stuck.

Spillane and her athletes took a lesson from the accident: 'Life jackets are critical.' Rosinbum's life jacket was found in his boat Ñ not on him.

'The river can be a perilous place,' Spillane adds, 'and there are things moving around that you sometimes can't see.'

Contact Jason Vondersmith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .