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Woman assaults Sonoma County deputies during combative Russian River rescue

Woman attacks Sonoma County deputies during river rescue
Woman attacks Sonoma County deputies during river rescue 03:26

Sonoma County deputies were able to pull a woman to safety from the rapid waters of the Russian River in Guerneville Sunday afternoon despite the woman attacking her rescuers during their efforts.

According to a release from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, on Sunday at around 4:20 p.m., dispatch received a 911 call reporting a child who was swept down the Russian River from Johnson's Beach in Guerneville. The river is currently running high due to the recent heavy rains, resulting in rapids and debris in the extremely chilly water.

Sgt. Gary Lawson was the first deputy on scene and spotted a person struggling to stay afloat in the middle of the Russian River where Fife Creek enters the river. After removing his gear, Lawson went into the water to attempt a rescue, putting on a life vest that second arriving Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Anthony Powers retrieved from his patrol car and threw to the sergeant. 

Russian River rescue
Site of Russian River rescue of combative woman. Sonoma County Sheriff's Office

When Lawson reached the person, a woman later identified as Lacey Mosher, she immediately began to fight him, attempting to push him under the water. Mosher continued to struggle as Lawson tried to rescue her, eventually controlling her enough to swim across the river and grab hold of a bush about 15 feet off the shore.   

A third Sonoma County Sheriff's deputy who had arrived at the scene, Deputy Cody McCready, spotted them and entered the water to assist in the rescue after he removed his gear. Mosher continued to fight both deputies as they continued their rescue attempt. The deep, fast-moving water between the deputies and the shore prevented them from swimming back to land.

Firefighters with the Sonoma County Fire District then arrived by boat and had to first pull Mosher from the water due to the small size of the boat before returning to rescue the deputies. Lawson was in the water for about 25 minutes total. He and McCready were treated for exposure and released at the scene.

Authorities said Mosher was transported to a local hospital for treatment and continued to attack first responders and medical personnel attempting to provide treatment. Details on her condition were not provided. Mosher is facing arrest on multiple charges.

The release noted that  the rescue "was an extremely difficult call for our deputies and dispatchers," with deputies on land at one point losing sight of the two deputies in the river. Both deputies came close to losing their lives during the rescue of the combative Mosher. 

"In line with our culture of service over self, Sergeant Lawson and Deputy McCready heroically risked their lives to save someone," Sheriff Eddie Engram said in the release. "They exemplify what it means to be a Sonoma County deputy sheriff."

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office also thanked partner agencies including Sonoma County Fire District and California Highway Patrol for their assistance during the call.

Just last week, Sonoma County Fire District used the higher waters on the Russian River from the stormy weather as an opportunity for some important rescue training.

Crews practiced of some of the toughest type of rescues, including pulling victims out of the fastest currents in the middle of the river very similar to Sunday's rescue.  

"It's one of those skills that's perishable, like a lot of other skills that we have in the fire service, so getting out here and practicing our skillset is very important for us," said Sonoma County firefighter Tom Krausmann.  

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