PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One person died Friday after a research boat capsized and sank in the Columbia River.
Four technicians with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission were on the boat in rough water when it started sinking.
A passerby on I-84 saw the boat overturn and called 911. Several agencies — the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Gresham Fire and the Port of Portland, Corbett Fire and AMR responded quickly.
The Gresham Fire and Rescue water crew initially thought it would be too unsafe to reach the sinking boat due to the rough water, but when the boat capsized, the crew entered the water.
The 3 men and one woman were in the freezing water, clinging to the bottom of the boat when that rescue team arrived.
The Gresham Fire crew pulled all 4 from the water, treated them with CPR and hypothermia care and took them ashore. Two men and a woman were taken by ambulance with hypothermia and are expected to recover. Another man was airlifted to a Portland hospital with life-threatening injuries, where he later died.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with that individual’s family at this time. This is a very sad day for the individual’s family, the tribe and our office,” Sara Thompson with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission said
Officials said water conditions were very rough at the time and likely contributed to the boat capsizing.
In a statement, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission said the 4 people “are highly trained and log hundreds of hours on the Columbia River each year.” They also thanked the first responders.
“Our priority at this time is the care and welfare of our staff.”