River rescue

The Waco River Safari crew rescues a woman who either fell or jumped from the Herring Avenue Bridge above the Brazos River on Monday evening.

Waco River Safari tourists who witnessed the rescue of a woman who either fell or jumped from the Herring Avenue Bridge on Monday evening called the boat crew heroes after they saved the woman from the waterway.

Ryan Helm, owner of Waco River Safari, said boat captain Austin Weynand and co-captain Thomas Finely were taking a sunset cruise down the Brazos River shortly before 9 p.m. As the boat neared Herring Avenue, boat occupants heard a splash.

“We heard a splash and looked up, and there was someone in the water,” said Roxanne Penz, a tourist from Plano. “Thomas jumped in the water with two life jackets and swam over to the person."

Helm said Finely swam to the woman, who was face down in the water. Finely turned her over, allowing her to spit up water, he said.

Finely placed life jackets underneath the woman and helped take her to the shore, where Waco police and emergency medical personnel waited.

Waco fire Battalion Chief Don Yeager said ambulance personnel administered first aid.

“A lot of people were there at the right time,” Yeager said.

Helm said Weynand called to inform him that the boat was going to be late following the rescue. He said he could not be more proud of his crew.

“From jumping in the water to being on the (shore), it was like a total of seven minutes,” Helm said. “I am the proudest guy right now.”

Penz said no one on the boat was upset with the delayed docking time. She said someone on the boat called 911 and she was glad the rescue was successful.

“That’s an act of heroism,” she said. “Nobody was upset. It was a group of people wanting to help.”

The name and condition of the woman was unavailable Tuesday.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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