Firefighters rescued an 83-year-old Lynden woman from the Nooksack River on Tuesday morning after she vanished from her home Monday night.
Shirley Marie Assink was in satisfactory condition Tuesday afternoon at St. Joseph hospital, where she was taken by ambulance, a hospital official said.
A missing person report was filed with Lynden Police for Assink, who disappeared from her home near downtown after going to her car for a sweater about 7 p.m. Monday. Also missing was her silver 2007 Saturn Vue, a small SUV, said Lynden Police Chief Jack Foster.
Assink’s son-in-law, Dave Hanson of Bellingham, said Assink may have suffered a medical problem, and was being monitored at the hospital. No one knows how she got in the water.
Hanson posted overnight appeals on social media that drew some 300 shares by dawn Tuesday. About 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, he texted that Assink had been found and that he was headed to be with family at the hospital.
Foster said Assink was found clinging to a branch in the Nooksack River near Guide Meridian and River Road, and was rescued by firefighters. Her SUV was parked at a popular fishing location nearby, not far from Ferndale Ready Mix and Gravel.
“One of their employees was going to work and heard somebody calling for help,” Foster said. “Folks from the cement plant put planks over the blackberries so they could walk on, they’re thick there by the river, and the aid crew brought her in.”
Foster said he didn’t know how long Assink had been in the glacier-fed river, which is running fast and cold after a week of warm, sunny days in the mountains.
Lynden police officers received notice to be on alert for a woman matching Assink’s description, 5-foot-2 with short white hair, Foster said.
Family members at first feared the worst, not knowing if she had been the victim of a crime or if she had become incapacitated.
“She did not have (her) purse or any ID with her and (this is) totally out of the norm,” Hanson said, adding he had seen Assink, a lifelong Whatcom County resident with many relatives in the area, on Sunday.
“(She) seemed perfectly fine as her and her husband Wes had lunch at our house yesterday (Monday) and played cards,” he said.
Assink was the second elderly Whatcom County resident to have gone missing this year.
Liberato “Bob” Trotta, 87, disappeared from his home south of Fairhaven Park on Feb. 20. Trotta, who had dementia, was found dead March 1 on a steep hillside in Boulevard Park. An autopsy showed that he died of exposure to the cold, most likely on the night he left home.