A Portland woman has been reunited with her prosthetic leg after it was lost in the Clackamas River.
On July 27, Ariel Rigney and several friends came to McIver State Park to float the river in celebration of her 32nd birthday.
“Every year, I like to do a birthday float,” Rigney said, as reported by KGW 8.
Rigney’s leg was lost below the knee after a car crash when she was a teenager. Her prosthetic leg has made it possible for her to stay active. “I can still swim, hike, bike and run,” she said.
Despite having a prosthetic leg, Rigney floated the river. However, the bungee cord that attached her prosthetic leg to the raft came undone.
“We just hit a big bump and the leg went pfrewwww!” said Jacob Morton, Rigney’s friend who attempted to save Rigney’s leg. “It became pretty obvious pretty quickly that we didn’t have the resources to get the leg.”
Rigney thought that there was no way to retrieve it.
“I just saw it bobbing and I’m like, ‘No!’ I felt more ridiculous than anything. Like, who loses a leg, twice?” she said.
A friend of hers suggested posting about her lost prosthetic on Facebook.
A day later, Eric Gantner from Tigard went snorkeling in the Clackamas River near McIver State Park. He was not aware of Rigney’s lost leg.
Gantner has found lots of thingamabobs in the Clackamas.
“You find all kinds of stuff down there,” Gantner said. “It’s crazy.”
He first saw a rainbow-colored Keens sandal, then realized it was attached to a prosthetic leg.
“When you see that, you’re like uh, what? What is that?” Gantner said. “I go, ‘So, somebody had a really bad day.’”
When Gantner returned home, he searched Facebook for leads.
“I searched, ‘Lost leg Clackamas River,’ and sure enough this came up,” Gantner said. He sent Rigney a message.
“He was like, ‘Hey, I was snorkeling the Clackamas, saw your post about the leg. I think I found it?’” Rigney said. “I was like, that’s it!”
In the evening on July 28th, the two met each other. Gantner gave Rigney her leg and Rigney purchased a beer for Gantner.
“It was nice,” Rigney said. “I’m really glad he was willing to sit and chat and hang out, as opposed to just, ‘Here’s the leg, OK, bye.”
Gantner was glad to chat.
“I was like, ‘There’s a story behind this. I gotta hear about your day!’”
The prosthetic was found, and so was a friendship.
“I just can’t get over it,” Rigney said. “I feel very charmed.”
Read the story and watch an interview with Rigney and Gantner here.
Read Rigney’s Facebook post about her experience here.