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Aug-02-2009 01:18printcomments

Man Presumed Drowned After Falling From Sailboat

Two men entered the water, one was rescued.

Area east of Hayden Island
Area east of Hayden Island
Photo courtesy: Google Earth

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Rescuers say two men jumped off a rented sailboat into the Columbia River to cool off around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, and only one was able to make it back to the sailboat. The other male is presumed drowned.

Lt. Rich Tyler with Portland Fire and Rescue says his agency, along with the Multnomah County Sheriff's River Patrol, Port of Portland Fire and the U.S. Coast Guard, were dispatched at 6:36 p.m. Saturday evening to a person in the water just east of Hayden Island in the Columbia River.

Portland Fire and Rescue's Rescue Boat 17 arrived on scene first at 6:42 p.m. to find three adult males on the sailboat, according to Tyler.

"The adult male that had jumped into the river with his friend stated that he tried to help his friend get back to the sailboat but almost drowned in the process."

Rescue Boat 17's crew provided first aid to the male and then had a U.S. Coast Guard vessel transport him to the 42nd Street Boat Ramp to be transported to Providence Hospital by ambulance, Tyler said.

"The other two males on the sailboat provided a last seen point for Portland Fire and Rescue's Dive Team and Multnomah County Sheriff's Dive Team to begin searching."

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from Astoria also assisted with surface water and shoreline searches. Both dive teams searched until approximately 9:30 p.m. and then had to call off the search due to nightfall.

Authorities are not releasing the identities of the four males involved until further notice. River Conditions at the time included a 4-knot current, 70 degree water temperature, with water visibility between 2 to 3 feet.

Tyler issued this safety reminder: "Both males were not wearing life jackets. With the river current running that fast, it takes a strong swimmer with a lifejacket to swim back to a boat after entering the water. We recommend that everyone wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved lifejacket with a whistle attached while boating."

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