An Astoria man was rescued from the Columbia River by Astoria Police Wednesday, after he said voices were summoning him in.

Now that man, Robert Velzy, 57, of Astoria, is in the care of Clatsop Behavioral Health, which evaluated and treated him after the incident.

“I don’t believe he was trying to commit suicide,” said Deputy Police Chief Brad Johnston. “But he said he ‘heard voices’ coming from the water and refused to get out.”

Astoria Police and Fire personnel responded to a report that Velzy was in the river near the end of 16th Street just after 11 a.m. As responders tried to get him out of the water, Velzy was not cooperative and swam away from any rescue devices thrown to him. Several times, police said, he was near the shore but swam away, saying the voices were calling him out.

An officer, A.J. Duryea, knee-deep in the river, was able to grab ahold of Velzy after nearly 20 minutes. Duryea was outfitted with a life jacket and was tethered.

Medix Ambulance Service staff took Velzy to the hospital.

Police do not usually perform water rescues, but the area where Velzy was located was surrounded by pilings, Johnston said, making it difficult to get a boat to the area. Oregon State Police did launch a small inflatable boat from the West End Mooring Basin but the situation was resolved before it arrived.


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