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Body of missing Medford woman found in Illinois River

SELMA — The body of a missing Medford woman who disappeared May 17 while wading in the Illinois River was recovered Monday, and she is presumed drowned.

Members of a search party organized by relatives of Tina Behneke discovered her body about 7:50 p.m. Sunday wedged between a tree and a bush in the river about a mile from where she was last seen, said Deputy Cory Krauss from the Josephine County Sheriff's Search and Rescue program.

Krauss confirmed the presence of the body Sunday night but did not deem recovery to be safe in the late evening, so a large recovery crew returned at 8 a.m. for a successful effort, Krauss said.

Behneke, 21, was with friends exploring the Illinois when she attempted to wade across the river at the Store Gulch Day Use Area, a popular swimming and wading area in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest off Forest Service Road No. 4103 about 9 miles west of Selma.

She lost her balance and was swept downstream, according to the sheriff's office. Friends attempted to rescue her, but she disappeared when swept into a rapid, deputies said.

Search and rescue crews looked for Behneke for two days, including sending a dive team into the river a half-mile downstream from where she was last seen. Search and Rescue leaders called off the search because conditions in the Illinois River were hazardous.

The Illinois at Kerby on Monday was flowing at 875 cubic feet per second, about 30 percent higher than average, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtfribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

The body of missing Medford woman Tina Behneke was found Sunday in the Illinois River. [Mail Tribune / file photo]