Broadcast on WWLP.com
CONWAY — Firefighters worked until dusk Sunday evening to recover the body of a woman presumed to have drowned in a tubing accident in the Deerfield River.
Conway Fire Chief Robert Baker said a group of six or seven people were tubing immediately below TransCanada’s Deerfield Number 2 hydro plant dam when one woman was drawn into a vortex or fell.
At 7:45 p.m., Baker said the woman had been underwater for about an hour and a half, but said the effort was still a rescue operation.
Baker said he believed the group was from out of state. Baker identified the victim as, a woman about 26 years old, but he couldn’t say more.
Baker said the area below the dam is not a common one for inner-tubing and is dangerous.
Divers waited for the flow over the dam to stop in order to enter the turbulent water but ultimately, Baker said, an uncontrolled dam upstream released water, raising the water level instead of lowering it.
“They searched under water as far as they could but they only had two feet of visibility,” Baker said, and the current became worse with every foot.
The water between the dam and a small rock island is about 25 feet deep and very dangerous, he said.
Multiple agencies assisted Conway, including emergency departments from Greenfield, Turners Falls, Charlemont and Shelburne and the Northfield Dive Rescue Team.
At about 9 p.m., Baker said the search was now a recovery operation and will resume Monday at 6 a.m. The dam is at the base of Power Company Access Road, an extension of Wilder Hill Road.