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Trooper, Aided by Others, Saves 90-Year Old Man from John Day River
Sergeant Gordon Larson
Oregon State Police - John Day
(541) 575-1363

Phoograph links valid for 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
An Oregon State Police (OSP) trooper assisted by an OSP sergeant, Grant County deputies and numerous others, saved a 90-year old man from the John Day River Thursday afternoon. The man was quickly succumbing to hypothermia as he clung to his submerged car in the middle of the river. The trooper put himself at significant risk, entering the river and performing a swift water rescue before being pulled back to shore.
On May 20, 2010 at approximately 1:55 p.m. Grant County 9-1-1 received a report of a car in the John Day River in the Picture Gorge area of the John Day Fossil Beds National Park. The Picture Gorge is about five miles west of Dayville in Grant County. The car was traveling westbound when it failed to negotiate a curve and went into the river. The continued downstream about 800 feet before getting stuck on a submerged large rock.
Upon arrival, officers and emergency responders spotted the car submerged in the middle of the river which was at high levels due to recent rain in the area. A man, identified as MILTON PEARLMAN, age 90, from northeast Portland, had reportedly been in the water for over 30 minutes when officers arrived. PEARLMAN was quickly becoming hypothermic, so OSP Trooper Marv Ritter donned a life jacket and tied a line to him to attempt a swift water rescue.
Ritter, age 57, entered the river several hundred feet above the car and was able to swim to the middle of the river as the current carried him downstream. Ritter grabbed onto the car and PEARLMAN, placed a life jacket on him and was pulled back to shore by numerous emergency personnel, deputies and Sergeant Larson.
Immediately upon returning to shore, PEARLMAN was treated by medical responders and quickly rushed to the John Day Hospital for treatment of hypothermia. PEARLMAN was held overnight and is expected to be released Friday after his son arrives from the Salem area.
Ritter's lifesaving effort was helped by other officers, volunteer ambulance and fire personnel from Dayville, ODOT and numerous citizens who stopped at the scene.
Ritter has worked for OSP for 5 years in the Fish & Wildlife Division at the OSP John Day work site. He had previous law enforcement experience before joining OSP.
Larson and Ritter visited PEARLMAN Thursday night at the hospital. They said he was doing very well and was in good spirits. PEARLMAN was traveling in eastern Oregon to see the sights and had left Baker City for Condon when this incident occurred.