GLADSTONE, Ore. (KOIN) — The body of a man in his 30s was pulled from the Willamette River Sunday afternoon after a car at Meldrum Bar Park went under the water, authorities said.
Two men and a woman reportedly drove a Jeep out to the island at Meldrum Bar Park before the incident occurred.
“They decided to come back, they did travel through the water, the car started bobbing a little bit and they went off the edge and the car submerged,” Gladstone Fire Lt. Kirk Stemple said.
Nearby boaters rushed to help and were able to rescue 2 people, Lt. Stemple said.
Deputies responded to the scene after getting calls that at least one person hadn’t resurfaced. A passerby reportedly tried pulling him from the water, but he slipped from their grasp.
On Monday, bystanders watched as the Jeep was pulled from the Willamette.
Kirk Stempel with Gladstone Fire Dept. says the area has been problematic for years. In as little as 30 minutes, a rise in the tide can completely cover the middle of the bar, separating it into 2 islands.
“We’ve had a lot of vehicles out here trapped by the high tides,” Stempel said. “What people don’t understand is there is tides out here, and they’ll drive out here and fish or picnic and do whatever and the tides will come in and it’ll trap them.”
Just 3 years ago, an experienced fisherman was killed by the river’s high tide.
Now Stempel says he thinks the public should be blocked from driving onto the bar.
But fisherman Jim Foster has been coming to the spot for decades, and he says it’s safe as long as you know what you are doing.
“It’s been here for 50 years, ain’t nobody have any problem,” Foster said.
Members of the Gladstone Fire Dept. and Clackamas County Water Rescue Consortium plan to take their concerns to the Gladstone City Council.