Stranded floater taken off Gasconade River by fire boat

MT. STERLING — A female stranded on the muddy western bank of the Gasconade River downstream of the U.S. 50 bridge near Mt. Sterling was picked up late Saturday night by Owensville fire personnel using their jet boat.

Assistant Chief Jeff Arnold said the woman in her 30s was floating with two friends from the Cooper Hill access off of Route D to Mt. Sterling. She missed the takeout in the dark and drifted downstream and past the U.S. 50 bridge.

She was on an “unapproved flotation device,” said Arnold noting it was in the shape of a unicorn. It was her birthday, Arnold said, and she was removed from the muddy bank where she had been clinging to a tree. She had become separated from two other companions, a woman also in her 30s and a man who was around 40.

All three were from the Owensville area, Arnold said.

The other woman and the man, who had been floating on donut-patterned inflatables, left the river at one point and crossed an electric fence, woods, and several fields before reaching Route A south of Mt. Sterling.

Arnold was traveling on Route A when he came across the two. One was wearing flip-flops, the other was shoeless. They were dehydrated and complained of being bitten by bugs and getting scratched up.

Arnold said firemen from Owensville were involved in the search for the three from around 11:10 p.m. Aug. 17 until about 2 a.m. Sunday. Firemen from Linn also assisted by sending and launching a boat crew.

Arnold said there were conflicting reports throughout the search about the location, and safety, of the stranded women’s friends. The third party erroneously reported no one else was with her, Arnold said.

The woman found on the western bank told firemen she heard conflicting voices in the dark which told her to “keep going” and also to “come on in” as she floated past the boat ramp at Mt. Sterling. That narrow ramp is upstream from the bridge at Mt. Sterling on river-right.

She kept going and ended up stuck on the mud bank below the bridge on river-left. The distance from where she started to where she ended up is only about three miles.