CORBETT, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Authorities recovered the body of a drowning victim from the Sandy River at Dabney State Park Sunday afternoon.
The Mutlnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) identified the victim as Birtha B. Subba , 52, from Portland.
MCSO River Patrol deputies along with other emergency responders from Troutdale Police Department, Corbett Fire Department and AMR responded to the report of a swimmer in distress in the Sandy River near Dabney State Park around 2:30 p.m.
Initial efforts to locate the missing swimmer were hampered by language barriers with the caller as they tried to narrow down where the swimmer had gone under the water, police said.
Jim Jeffries, an Oregon Army Reservist, said he was playing Frisbee golf when he saw the sheriff’s office heading to the river for a rescue. He said he waded into the water to try to grab the unconscious man after he floated into some river rocks.
“I had to pull him by his underwear to pull him back. Grabbed him by his arm, and they [police] threw me a line. We pulled him to shore and started working on him. I said the Lord’s prayer when I was there and that was it,” said Jeffries.
Deputies said efforts to revive the man failed, and he died at the scene.
Authorities said Subba’s brother-in-law, Rikudhan Rai, informed them they were fishing from a sandbar on the river when Subba went into the water, got into trouble and apparently drowned as he struggled to stay afloat.
Subba’s brother-in-law said he was unable to help because he did not know how to swim.
“He’s like yelling and jumping. I can’t help him. I’m helpless. I don’t know how to swim,” said Rai. “I’m very sad and not only me – my relatives, everyone.”
Neither the brother-in-law nor Subba were wearing a life jacket, police said.
Subba leaves behind a wife and two grown children.