Deputy Mike Cahill of the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office was recently honored for his efforts in saving a suicidal woman from drowning in the Columbia River near Boardman.

The Oregon State Marine Board recognized Cahill and other marine law enforcement officers from across the state for water-related rescues during the Marine Law Enforcement Conference, held Oct. 16 in Redmond. The event also highlighted individuals for outstanding service that went above and beyond in helping improve boating safety on Oregon’s waterways.

During a Sept. 10 incident, Cahill responded to a call that a woman had been spotted about 50-75 yards from the shore. With three- to four-foot swells, wind and visible whitecaps, the woman struggled to keep her head above the water while continuing to move further from shore.

Cahill determined there wasn’t adequate time to deploy a boat, so he dove into the water. After she went underwater several times, Cahill was finally able to grab her. The woman struggled and tried to break free — begging him to just let her go.

Responding with a calm demeanor, Cahill provided reassurance as he swam with both of them to the shore. Despite her resistance and choppy conditions, Cahill was able to reach shallow water with her where Boardman police entered to assist.

That wasn’t the only time during the summer that Cahill assisted in saving someone. On July 31, Cahill and other Morrow and Umatilla county first responders received a report of a boat fully engulfed in flames on the Columbia River near Irrigon. The boat’s operator, Raymond Howey Jr., was treated for burns on his legs.

The board is funded by registration, title fees and marine fuel taxes paid by motorized boaters. For more information about the board and its programs, visit www.boatoregon.com.

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