Body of Salem fisherman recovered

by Associated Press

kgw.com

Posted on February 13, 2011 at 12:25 PM

SALEM — Authorities have recovered the body of a 46-year-old Salem man who fell into the Santiam River Jan. 27 while fishing with a friend in Gates.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said the body of Troy Topper was recovered Saturday night after two fishermen in a drift boat spotted the body about 15 miles downstream from where he fell into the river.

The Salem Fire Department Water Surface Rescue Team assisted.

Topper was fishing from the river bank Jan. 27. He lost his footing when he went to the water’s edge to wash his hands.

His friend tried to pull him from the fast-moving, 38-degree water with a fishing pole but was unsuccessful.

The above news piece, is a sad and sobering reminder of what if’s and the attendant visuals of what friends and strangers went through over the man’s deadly mishap. I was reminded that a week ago, I hiked into the Sandy River at Oxbow Park. One spot in particular drew me and the one obstacle between me and the river was a ten foot+ high half a mile long pile of trees and debris from recent high waters. I made it to the river and out, but ignored a ‘what if?’ self check moment. What if I miscalculated and stepped into a hole at the top of the debris and plummeted downward out of sight? Sure, family knew where I was headed “Oxbow and if not there above Dodge”.

But, if I am late coming home, there is often going to be a delay filled, anxiety laden night for family and rescuers. Rescuers are not going to risk their safety climbing atop a drift pile, if they initially think I am even down in one of those crevasses of debris. Most logically they would assume I drowned or am down on a trail.

Outdoor pursuits are, of course, inherently dangerous for all manner of reasons. But, a primary danger are falls (even at home) for outdoor types.  So, my what if, self check mechanism should have been activated and more patience maintained to spare rescuers the dangers and costs and my family the nauseating gut check of their own what if’s. Exercise caution while having those alone moments and hearing the call of the river.  Condolences for the family, friends and those that recovered Mr. Topper.