Missing swimmers presumed drowned; lifeguards busy

Austin Wolford, Christopher Dube are believed drowned

This lifeguard rescued a swimmer at High Rocks, July 6, 2014 (KOIN 6 News/Jonathan Simmons)
This lifeguard rescued a swimmer at High Rocks, July 6, 2014 (KOIN 6 News/Jonathan Simmons)

GLADSTONE, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Two swimmers are missing and presumed drowned this weekend as people flocked to the waters to beat the summer heat. Meanwhile lifeguard and emergency responders were stationed at known water trouble spots.

Water rescue teams searched the Yale Reservoir in northern Clark County for a missing 19-year-old swimmer who is presumed to have drowned.

Austin H. Wolford was described by his friends a “not a strong swimmer,” and when he fell off an inner tube he could not get back on, authorities said in a release. He tried to swim to shore but didn’t make it. His girlfriend’s father tried to rescue him but was not able to find him under the water.

Wolford’s body was found Monday morning, officials said.

Saturday night in the Gorge, where the Klickitat River empties into the Columbia, 23-year-old Christopher Dube from Kirkland, Washington disappeared near Leidl Falls. A search began almost immediately, but that stretch of the river is extremely treacherous, the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday night. The search has been indefinitely suspended and Dube is presumed to have drowned.

Swimmers, jumpers and sunbathers at High Rocks in Gladstone, July 6, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Swimmers, jumpers and sunbathers at High Rocks in Gladstone, July 6, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

With many local waterways filled with fresh snowmelt, even when the temperature pushes 90 the water could be dangerously cold.

One of the most popular spots is in Gladstone, where the hot weather attracts people to the high rocks section of the Clackamas River. It’s been a deadly place for swimmers because of both the cold water running right off Mount Hood and because of the swift current in the narrow section of the river.

A lifeguard at High Rocks rescued a man who couldn’t fight the current after jumping in Sunday. The lifeguard saved the young man and brought him to shore.

American Medical Response (AMR), working with the City of Gladstone, had lifeguards watching over swimmers and jumpers in this area.

“They come out here in droves, just hundreds of people out here, ” said Mitch Dickey, and EMT/lifeguard. “There’s a lot of people who come out here and don’t really know the hazards of the river and the strong currents.”

At Lewisville Park north of Battle Ground, a woman slipped and hit her head. She was taken to the hospital for treatment, and her condition has not been released at this time.

A number of drownings happened this week as the weather heated up, some of which happened on the Oregon coast.

Experts suggest always having a life vest and know what to do in a riptide, a rip current or in an undertow.

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