PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – One man is dead after an apparent drowning on the Sandy River on Wednesday near Oxbow Park, as many were out on the river trying to cool off from the heat.
Details are still limited as to what led to the possible drowning and who was involved, but people heading out on the river said there were parts during their rafting where they felt unsafe and worried about getting through safely.
From swimming near the Lewis and Clark Recreation Site to boating by Oxbow Park, plenty were out on the Sandy River Wednesday, trying to escape the heat. Carl Snyder came with friends to raft the rapids.
“This is the first time I’ve been out here to the Sandy. I’ve been to the Clackamas, the Deschutes a few times, but it’s the first time I’ve ever run this river before,” said Snyder.
However, the group didn’t expect to see emergency responders during their trip.
“We were part way through our rafting trip and saw a helicopter circling over a handful of times,” said Snyder. “We weren’t sure what was going on.”
Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies say around 2:40 p.m., they received a report of an unresponsive person in the Sandy River near Oxbow. Gresham firefighters also responded, launching a river rescue raft. They found the man in the river and took him to paramedics on shore, but he had already died. While it’s unknown what exactly happened, people along the river say it’s concerning as many are out in the water.
“Whenever you run a new section of river, it’s kind of scary and concerning,” said Snyder. “You’re unsure of what’s coming up, so it’s an extra level of concern, but when you see or hear of an incident about someone drowning or being hurt, it reminds you of that caution.”
Snyder’s group, which went along some trickier parts of the Sandy’s rapids, say there were some areas of rougher conditions where they worried about crossing.
“They were a little lower than I was expecting so a lot more rocks, a lot more obstacles than I expected, a couple spots that felt pretty unsafe,” said Snyder.
People out on the Sandy on Wednesday, including Snyder, tell KOIN 6 it’s not only important to bring proper gear like personal flotation devices — and helmets, if rafting — but also staying hydrated and bringing food for fuel.
With recent drownings, first responders have continued to emphasize the importance of being safe out on the water. They want to remind people that these natural waterways are not predictable and it’s important to wear a life jacket, as often, many of the water entrances have free rentals to use.