Just after 6p.m. on July 20, callers to 911 reported that a friend who had been swimming in the middle of the Willamette River near Rogers Landing without a life vest had gone under the water and was no longer visible. TVF&R’s Water Rescue Team, located at the Newberg fire station, arrived within three minutes of being dispatched and immediately deployed a boat to begin searching the water.
The team dropped a buoy at the point where the 18-year-old man was last seen and began searching a grid pattern with a swimmer in the water and a thermal-imaging camera. After more than an hour of searching, firefighters transitioned from “rescue” to “recovery” mode and requested the assistance of a dive team from Clackamas County. TVF&R Chaplains also responded to comfort bystanders.
TVF&R was assisted by Washington County Consolidated Communications (911), Yamhill County Sherriff’s Office, Newberg Police Department and Lake Oswego Fire Department’s Dive Rescue Team. At 8:45 p.m., divers from Lake Oswego Fire Department’s Dive Team located the young man’s body in about 20 feet of water. Our hearts ache for the family and friends who have lost someone they love.
About TVF&R’s Water Rescue Team
TVF&R’s Water Rescue Team is comprised of firefighters cross-trained in swift-water rescue, rope rescue techniques and boat operations. The team trains once a week to ensure response readiness and hone specialized skills. On any given day, five to six water rescue technicians are on duty ready to respond around the clock. The team is strategically positioned at Station 59 in West Linn and Station 20 in Newberg near the Willamette River. In 2019, the team responded to 55 water rescue incidents.
About Life Jackets
In addition to keeping your head above water, a life jacket will also allow you to conserve body heat by floating rather than swimming. Oregon law mandates that all boats must carry at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every person aboard. Persons under 12 must be wearing the life jacket.