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A dramatic river rescue near Eau Claire

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Greg Peck
June 5, 2013

I found the story of Saturdayís dramatic rescue on the Chippewa River amazing. While family members tried to get a boat out of the water, their van rolled into the river and quickly submerged. Inside was Logan Buchli, 3. By the time bystanders broke a window to get him to shore, Logan was unresponsive.

We ran a brief in Mondayís Gazette about the rescue. As someone who enjoys fishing, I could almost picture the scene and shuddered to think of it. I wondered what missteps might have occurred to create this near tragedy. An uncle, who reportedly couldn't swim well, pulled Loganís 5-year-old sister out of the van just before it went under.

The incident reminded me of a tragedy on a pond in Janesville that occurred decades ago on a Saturday night when I was serving as The Gazetteís Sunday editor. It also should serve as a cautionary tale for any boaters around here launching on the still-swift Rock River.

On Tuesday, I found on our wire services a compelling blow-by-blow story by Eric Lindquist of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. You can read a shorter version of the story.

Those bystanders who dove into the water as the van moved downstream in the current, then broke the back window with a rock to pull the boy out, are true heroes.

A longer version of the story included police accounts that said the childrenís father was struggling to get the boat back on the trailer in the current when the van rolled backward. That happened although the ignition was off and it was in park, officers confirmed after pulling the van from the river.

So did it somehow roll backward despite being in park? Did it slide backward on a slippery ramp as the current pulled on the trailer? Iím not sure. Iím just glad Tuesday's report said the boy was improving and asking to go home.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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