UPDATE, 7 a.m. 5/3/23 — The woman has been identified as Libby Stimpson, 28. She was walking her dogs along the riverbank and was swept into the river, officials tell ABC4.
You can donate to a GoFundMe to assist the family to pay for her burial and funeral once they locate her body.
ORIGINAL POST: WEBER COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) — More than a day after a handful of 911 calls came into Weber County dispatch, search and rescue teams continue to search the Weber River for a woman who may have fallen into the fast-moving water.
The Weber County Sheriff’s Office mobile command center is currently stationed next to the Weber River in Uinta near Adams Ave and I-84, where authorities believe the woman may have fallen in Monday evening.
From the command center to Marriott-Slaterville, dozens of search and rescue volunteers, first responders and other emergency personnel are stationed at pre-designated checkpoints along the river. Additionally, a handful of divers are using rafts to check areas in the water with lots of debris.
“I can’t tell you what circumstances need to happen for us to stop searching,” said Sgt. Paul Babinsky with the Weber County Sheriff’s Office.
Babinsky, like so many other emergency crews, spent the day at the mobile command center to assist in search efforts that could continue for days.
“That’s going to be up to the search and rescue commander when they decide that all options have been exhausted.”
Weber County officials say that multiple 911 calls came in just after 5:40 p.m. Monday reporting that a person was being carried away in the water and yelling for help. A report of a missing woman in her 20s came in around the same time from the same area, officials said, but they cannot confirm if the two are related at this time nor are they identifying the missing woman.
After the calls came in, first responders from across the county immediately reported to their designated checkpoint along Weber River.
“We want the closest unit to respond to the closest checkpoint because the potential victim is floating so fast down the river, we need to have as many eyes on the river as possible,” said Weber Fire District Battalion Chief Chazz Pearmain.
Both the Ogden River and Weber River have dozens of designated checkpoints for incidents like this one. When a call comes in for a swift-water rescue at either of the rivers, first responders from cities in Weber and Davis County respond. To prevent confusion, the checkpoints along the Ogden River are alphabetically labeled and the checkpoints along the Weber River are numbered.
“There’s a lot of points, a lot of bridges, a lot of access areas, a lot of problem areas, where people can get hung up so we have those points where we can pick out a person if we need to,” said Ogden Fire Department Fire Captain Patrick McFarland.
When a call comes in, nine crews are immediately sent out to the checkpoints nearby.
“At those checkpoints, we have crews walking up and down each side of the bank walking, either bank left or bank right, looking for the victim,” Pearmain said.
He explained that the rescue command will then monitor the river’s water speed, levels and other factors that can make the water dangerous. In this case, there are 20 different checkpoints.
These search and rescue efforts require a ton of resources and manpower. In fact, county officials told ABC4 that it can deplete at least half of the emergency resources for the entire county.
However, as search and rescue efforts continue, volunteer crews slowly take over for the fire departments.
“We can still have the same manpower on the shore banks as needed but also get engine companies back to service and responding in their perspective areas so that the public isn’t going on without coverage,” Pearmain said. “We take it very seriously. As for the public. I wouldn’t go near the river. At all. As responders, when we’re responding to these types of events, we’re not allowed to get within 15 feet of the riverbank without a personal floatation device on.”
Officials are asking the public to stay away from the river in general as it continues to run at dangerous levels. They also ask the public to avoid the various checkpoints along the river, saying that having people show up to see what’s going on makes the search team’s job harder, and it also increases the chances of someone else falling in.