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Jan-01-2010 19:01printcomments

Good Samaritan Rescues Three from Willamette River

A vehicle on a point of land in the river was quickly overtaken by rain and a rising level.

Submerged SUV in Clackamas, Oregon 1-1-10
Photo courtesy: Clackamas County Sheriff's Office

(CLACKAMAS, Ore.) - Members of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit and Dive Rescue Team responded to the Meldrum Bar Park area along the Willamette River today at 3:28 p.m. after being alerted of an occupied vehicle in the water, Sheriff's Office Spokesman Det. Jim Strovink said.

"Marine personnel soon discovered that an SUV type vehicle had been driven by three occupants to the outermost point on Meldrum Bar for an afternoon of fishing. After a period of time and extensive rain showers, the Willamette River began to rise rapidly."

Strovink says the three fishermen attempted to return to shore with the vehicle.

"It was during this effort to drive their vehicle off from the Bar, the vehicle became enveloped with the increasing water and stalled –- leaving the trio in the rapidly rising Willamette River."

A Good Samaritan boater, identified as 25-year old Josh Thomas of Tigard, was boating in the area and came to the aid of the trio.

Clackamas County Marine Deputy Morgan Guthner, said the Good Samaritan, Josh Thomas, "most probably saved the life of the one who was in the most jeopardy and in desperate need of assistance – the one he rescued was just about totally exhausted when rescue personnel arrived on scene. He was holding onto the boat for his life."

At least one of the three in jeopardy waded to shore and was retrieved by the responding Marine Rescue personnel.

An additional subject, who was attempting to attend to his sinking automobile, was also provided assistance to dry land by rescue personnel.

No injuries are reported and all three occupants were successfully brought to shore. These three persons rescued from the river are identified as 17-year old Derek Paul of Gladstone, 38-year old Timothy Aaron Paul of Gladstone, father of Derek, and 36-year old David Collins ll of Milwaukie.

Strovink says Timothy A. Paul was transported by American Medical Response from the scene for evaluation to Willamette Falls Hospital, while conscious and breathing; although was reportedly trembling from his exposure to the extreme cold.

The involved automobile is reported to have water to the roof line and is expected to be towed from the Bar as soon as practical. No life jackets were available in the vehicle.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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