Rescuers pull woman from swollen Connecticut river

By FRANCES MIZE

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 07-18-2023 5:27 PM

WEST LEBANON — Brittany Silvio, 37, was hoping for a relaxing river-side evening with her son and daughter at the end of a sweltering day, but the Connecticut River, elevated by last week’s flooding and weeks of heavy rainfall, had plans of its own.

After her inner tube was pulled into a swift current, Silvio was rescued by the Hartford Fire Department on Monday evening nearly a mile from where she had been sitting at a river access near the 4 Aces Diner.

“Looks can be deceiving,” Silvio said of the river, which she admitted was higher than usual, but conditions didn’t seem treacherous enough to raise her concerns.

She had hoped to bob in her tube by the shore, “but as soon the river took me, I was gone.”

Silvio, , who was wearing a life jacket, was carried under the rail bridge, her inner tube slowly deflating until she had to begin swimming herself. Her children, Dominic Rowe, 16, and Jenna Parks, 6, ran along the Mascoma Greenway calling her name.

“After a while, we lost sight of her, and then she couldn’t even hear us,” Rowe said.

That’s when the siblings’ shouts became pleas for help. Meanwhile, Silvio eddied out into a calmer waters on the Vermont side of the river, along the shore across from the Romano Circle apartments in West Lebanon.

“I was petrified,” Silvio said.

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A boat manned by the Hartford Fire Department retrieved her there, after being called onto the scene by a 911 call made from someone at Hannaford’s who had heard the family’s cries.

“It’s a successful rescue,” Lebanon Fire Department Assistant Chief Jeff Libbey said from the scene. The Hanover fire department also responded.

“They took me out of the water, out of my life jacket, and got me into the ambulance,” said Silvio, who refused medical attention.

After Silvio was reunited with her children, the trio were returned to where they started. The Polar Pops and gummy bears they had been feasting on before the action were still waiting patiently on the family’s towels.

“I just wanted to sit in my tube,” Silvio said. “Not go to New Jersey.”

The Connecticut River, still under flood watch, was at 14-feet on Monday evening, a level at which it moves in “swift flows,” and the National Weather Service urges caution to boaters.

Under similar circumstances, a 25-year old woman died last week in the Huntington River in Richmond, Vt., after slipping into currents inflamed by flooding.

“The universe had my back,” Silvio said. “I’m so grateful to those who responded.”

“As soon as I heard the sound of the sirens, I knew they had me.”

Frances Mize is a Report for America corps member. She can be reached at fmize@vnews.com or 603-727-3242. ]]>