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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Woman and Dog Cling to Tree in Swift Canal for 18 Hours Until Help Arrives: 'She Was About to Give Up'

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On Wednesday, a woman and her dog were in Yuma, Arizona, while she was doing some work in the area. She let her dog, Jack, run around a bit — but she didn’t realize there was a canal nearby.

At some point, her 55-pound dog went into the canal, but he couldn’t get back out. She went in to help him — and soon became trapped herself.

It was around 6:30 p.m. when the woman fell in, and for the next 18 hours, she and her dog fought the strong current by holding onto a tree in the canal, waiting desperately for help, according to KSAZ-TV.

Throughout the night, the woman kept clinging to the tree and her dog. As the desert warmed up the next morning and the sun beat down, she became more sunburned and exhausted.

There was a train track close to the canal, and train after train passed. It wasn’t until the eighth train went by that the conductor spotted her and her dog holding on for dear life and called 911.

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It was around noon by then, and the poor woman was about ready to give up.

The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) and Wellton Police Department responded to the call — and not a moment too soon.

“The will to survive is … what makes this a great story,” Sgt. Juan Salcido with Wellton Police told KSAZ.

“Her body told the story of her constantly fighting. She had abrasions to her whole arms, she had abrasions to her legs. She had sunburn. She looked very exhausted, to the point where she couldn’t even stand on her own two feet. She made the statement to me, and I know to deputies she was about to give up until she heard our sirens.”

Using a strap, officers worked to lasso the woman and pull her up out of the canal. They were also able to save her dog.

Wellton Fire arrived to assess the victim, and other than exposure to the elements and exhaustion, she appeared to have no serious, lasting injuries.

The YCSO shared the bodycam footage of the ordeal, showing just how desperate the situation had become.

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“YCSO has decided to share bodycam footage from our deputies who along with Wellton PD, assisted with a canal water rescue earlier this week involving a person who had been in the water for approx. 18 hours,” the Facebook post said.

“We want to thank everyone involved in assisting with this rescue, including the train conductor who spotted the subject in the water and called 911.”

The woman, who has not been named, is incredibly grateful to everyone involved in the rescue, as is her entire family, according to a comment from her brother.

“I am so VERY thankful to all the Deputies and First Responders who assisted in this rescue,” Ken Anderson wrote in a Facebook post. “It shows the excellent communication, teamwork, training and quick thinking between YCSO and the Wellton PD. Even when the strap broke, you were quick to find a solution and pull her to safety.

“The Train Conductor who reported this had no idea how this all played out after he radioed it into his dispatch and they in turn called 911. He had no idea she just spent 18 hours overnight in that canal.

“To Sergeant Salcido, Deputy Rice, Officer Meza, EA Williams and all of the unsung HEROES who were involved in this rescue, THANK YOU so very much for saving my sister’s life!!!”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking