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Wendy Reuer, Published May 11 2012

Valley City woman drowns trying to save dog

VALLEY CITY, N.D. – A woman died after she went into the Sheyenne River here to save her dog Friday morning.

After rescue crews pulled the woman’s body out of the river, the dog jumped back into the river and drowned, said Valley City Fire Chief Gary Retterath.

Authorities will release the woman’s name today after the family requested a delay to notify all mem-bers.

The 38-year-old Valley City resident called dis-patch around 8:20 a.m. to ask for help getting her spaniel out of the river, near the Little Dam on the southwest side of the city.

The woman told dis-patchers she was going to attempt to save the dog by going into the river, but dispatchers told her to wait for help, Retterath said.

When rescuers arrived, the woman was under the surface of the water, near the shoreline of the Little Dam and Eighth Avenue Bridge.

Rescuers pulled her body to shore and she was pro-nounced dead shortly after.

Retterath said he was at the station when the call came in and within seven minutes, he was on scene.

While crews tended to the woman’s body, the dog managed to pull itself out of the river, Retterath said.

“I happened to see the dog, and I think I even said, ‘Oh good, the dog is out.’”

But as crews were leav-ing, the dog went back into the water.

“By the time we got to it, it was too late. It got into the undercurrent of the dam,” Retterath said.

The temperature of the river water was around 55 degrees, which could have led to hypothermia quickly for both the dog and wom-an, Retterath said.

The woman’s body will be sent to the state crime lab in Bismarck for an autopsy.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530