WINNIPEG -- Emergency crews pulled off a dramatic rescue Saturday night after a woman was seen floating down the rushing Red River clinging to a piece of ice to stay above water.
A crowd of people who'd been spending their evening at the Cibo Waterfront Cafe witnessed the horrifying event.
A cafe employee said a fellow staff member noticed a growing police presence surrounding the area around Alexander Docks around 10:30 p.m.
"For the longest time we weren't sure what they were doing, but then we saw the helicopter and knew someone must be alive in the river," she said.
A Winnipeg police helicopter was first to spot the woman and alerted other emergency crews.
When diners looked outside, they saw the helicopter's powerful spotlight beaming down on the terrified woman, caught in the river's rushing current.
Within minutes, the area was surrounded by at least seven cop cars.
"Eventually we couldn't see her anymore, but we saw a boat pick her out of the water and take her into an ambulance," she said. "By that point there so many people watching."
"I think it was one of those times where all the stars aligned and each area was able to co-ordinate to prevent possible tragedy," police spokesman Const. Eric Hofley said.
Police and onlookers began throwing ropes in the water, but to no avail.
"It was just floating so fast," said the employee. "She just looked so terrified."
Eventually, the ice took her around the river's bend, where the water rescue team pulled her from the river.
The whole ordeal latest about 30-45 minutes, the employee said.
"We were all pretty rattled afterward when it was all over, it was a pretty traumatic situation," she said.
The woman was taken to hospital in stable condition.