PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Authorities are reminding swimmers and boaters to take precautions when heading out on the water.
Water levels are low right now, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said, which means drop-offs are closer to shore than normal. For swimmers, this means it’s possible to suddenly step off a ledge and into deep water sooner than expected.
Currents are also strong in rivers and the water can be unexpectedly cold in some spots, which can cause a shocked swimmer to struggle.
Deputies encourage everyone hitting the river to wear life jackets during all water activities — whether swimming, tubing or boating — and to swim with a buddy.
“We’ve had people out here that were former Olympic swimmers — ‘I can swim everywhere, I can swim everything’ — and they go down,” said MCSO Deputy Sheriff Scott McDowell. “So I always recommend to everybody, know your limitations, wear a life jacket, go with other people so they know that they’re out there.”
These safety reminders come in the wake of at least one drowning Friday night on the Columbia River.
A man drowned at Kelley Point Park at about 10 p.m. after going for a swim. His body was found about an hour later.
Earlier the same evening, another swimmer was seen struggling in the water off Sauvie Island before disappearing under the surface. His friends and family couldn’t reach him and called 911. Divers have not yet found him.