Off-Duty Corrections Officer Saves Woman from Drowning in Tuolumne County

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TUOLUMNE COUNTY -- What ended with Amy Duncan as a hero began with a trip to the Clavey River in Tuolumne County.

“I was a little nervous with how fast the water was going,” Duncan said.

Duncan was with her daughters, but strangers were there too, including a 26-year-old woman who decided to get in the water.

Moments later, Duncan knew something was wrong.

“I looked down at the water and I’m not seeing the girl knowing she went in the water, knowing she’s in the water [and] I’m not seeing her; I started to get pretty nervous myself,” she said.

After scanning the water, looking for any kind of movement, Duncan finally saw something.

“You could see the victim her hand was bobbing water, her head was coming out of the water and she was going further and further under the waterfall,” Duncan explained.

After coming up out of the water the woman went back under; then she ominously came up again... face down.

Duncan knew she needed to act.

“Tried to do that whole roll and pull her up on me and swim backwards with her but I wasn’t able to do it, physically I wasn’t able to get a good grasp of her, Duncan said.

Eventually, Duncan was able to grab the woman and bring her to land. It wasn’t looking good but she was prepared for this exact moment.

“A lot of water vomit things were coming out everything was happening so fast,” Duncan remembered. “I just kept doing chest compressions how I was trained for CPR.”

Duncan is a corrections officer at a local prison.

She says every year for more than a decade she has trained in life-saving first aid.

When the CPR wasn’t working, Duncan tried a chest thrust or Heimlich maneuver and it worked.

“And she took a deep gasping breath,” Duncan said.

After a hike to call for help, emergency crews arrived.

Duncan saved a life.

And through an unfortunate circumstance, gained greater respect from her kids.

“It brought me to tears. My daughters said, ‘mom, I’m so proud of you. You were there for someone today.’ And when they said that to me, that meant everything to me you know. It really did,” Duncan expressed.

Duncan says the woman she saved went to a hospital in Modesto and she says she plans on having a very long conversation with her sometime soon.

She also wants to have this be a warning for others about how swiftly water is moving in rivers this summer.


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