Woman safely out of water after being swept down Kansas River near downtown Lawrence

photo by: Sara Shepherd

Turbulent water just east of the Bowersock Dam and Kansas River Bridge is pictured Thursday, May 23, 2019.

Story updated at 12:24 p.m. Thursday

A woman is safe after escaping the turbulent and rain-swollen Kansas River near downtown Lawrence and being swept to the opposite bank nearly a mile downriver Thursday morning.

The woman initially told law enforcement that she slipped and fell into the water, said Sgt. Kristen Channel of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. However, Channel said that further investigation revealed that the woman jumped from the bridge connecting downtown and North Lawrence.

About 9:40 a.m., someone reported seeing a woman in the water near the river’s south bank behind Abe & Jake’s Landing, 8 E. Sixth St., just downriver from the Bowersock Dam.

First responders from the Lawrence Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Lawrence Douglas County Fire-Medical Department responded to the area, prepared to launch rescue boats into the water and called for a helicopter to search for the woman in the water, Channel said.

photo by: Sara Shepherd

A woman walks to a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle after escaping safely from the Kansas River, where she was swept roughly a mile downriver on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Heavy rains have swollen the river, pushing it out of its banks in some spots near Lawrence.

N 8th St & Oak St, Lawrence, KS 66044

By 10 a.m., the woman had made it to the opposite shore and got out of the water on her own near the boat ramp at Eighth and Oak streets in North Lawrence, Channel said. That location is roughly a mile downriver from the bridge.

“She was not injured, luckily,” Channel said.

Boats had not yet been deployed and the helicopter was called off, though numerous emergency personnel and vehicles responded to the scene.

“It was a scary ordeal,” the woman told the Journal-World afterward, though she declined to provide her name or say more about what happened.

A man who brought her dry clothes and picked her up from the scene also declined to share his name. He thanked emergency crews for their quick response to the report.

“They did an awesome job,” he said.

Channel said the woman, a 31-year-old Lenexa resident, told law enforcement that she was by the shore and fell into the water on accident.

Deputies at the scene — where the woman was checked out in an ambulance — could be overheard questioning her about whether she had suicidal thoughts.

After conducting follow-up investigation afterward law enforcement confirmed the woman jumped, Channel said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd


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