Crew hoists 8-ton backhoe from S. Santiam River

SWEET HOME, Ore. - Tuesday afternoon, a backhoe lurched out of a Sweet Home city maintenance yard and slid down an embankment into the South Santiam River.

City officials had to contract a heavy-duty crane from Portland on Friday to hoist the 8-ton backhoe from the river.

A witness picking up trash along the river called 911 to report that a large yellow object had crashed into the River.

The witness told KVAL news that she didn't know if someone was inside, but the water was too cold for her to jump in to.

Mike Adams, public works director for the city of Sweet Home, says emergency crews arrived and confirmed no one was inside.

On Friday, a contracted crew from Portland came to recover the submerged backhoe. The process took a little more than three hours.

Adams says a diver attached two hooks to the machine. The crane lifted the machine and swung it to a nearby trailer.

Adams says the backhoe will be taken to the main yard to investigate how the machine plunged into the river, as they are still unsure of how it moved out of the yard.

Workers had been using the backhoe Tuesday to move rock into a truck near the yard. The workers had left the yard when it busted out of the maintenance facility, Adams says.

He says heavy machinery can lurch causing it to move and become unstable. He also wonders if it may have slipped gears. He says he's even looking in to if someone was in the yard who wasn't a public works worker.

The total cost is estimated to be around $10,000. Although, Adams says that could fluctuate higher or lower. Adams says after an investigation, the backhoe will most likely be salvaged.

He says they notified DEQ and the Army Corps of Engineers after the accident. There is no environmental risk. The backhoe did not spill fuel into the river.