PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — During a week marked by drownings in the Portland area, river patrol officials are reminding people how to stay safe on the water.
On Thursday, a 22-year-old man disappeared beneath the surface while swimming at High Rocks Park on the Clackamas River. He spent 12 minutes underwater before a lifeguard rescued him and was taken to a hospital in critical condition and has since passed according to his family.
Adam Peterson with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said the incident at High Rocks was the first near-drowning deputies have seen in some time.
But that doesn’t mean first responders haven’t been busy. Peterson said deputies responded to around 5 water rescues in the past several days involving people who were stranded or mildly hurt.
The best way to avoid a tragedy on the water, Peterson said, is to wear a lifejacket, stay sober and always be aware of your surroundings because danger lurks in even the most calm-looking rivers.
“This is a river, it is not a swimming pool,” Peterson said.
And rivers can be deceptive.
“You’ll see kids out here playing in the water,” Peterson said. “They take one step too far and it goes from 6 inches deep to 3 to 4 feet deep and you’re in the current.”