Accident Database

Report ID# 2667

  • Equipment Trap
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

I did speak with the writer of the Oregonian after the first story came out reading; Clackamas County Sheriff's media relations officer said "No amount of experience or type of floatation could have prevented this accident."
I told the writer that with the proper training, skills and judgement it would be easily possible to successfuly negotiate this section of whitewater (I floated a 10 mile section just upstream with a 10 year old girl in a Jackson fun 1 the following day.
Most of what I have learned has been from Oregonian articles.
It later came out that a throwbag was deployed from another canoe once the original canoe capsized.  The rope was then released by the original rescuer in the rescue canoe.  The rope got tangled around the victims wrist, while the other end got chaulked and or tangled on a rock or debris.  The rope shockloaded and trapped the victim about 6 feet under the water - (the River was 10 feet deep).  

Definately throwbag error and bad luck. I believe proper training amd planning could have gone a long way in mitigating this accident.

Officials recover body of 11-year-old Boy Scout in river

Story Published: Jun 7, 2008 at 8:17 PM PDT

Story Updated: Jun 8, 2008 at 6:00 PM PDT By KATU Web Staff, Portland, OR

GLADSTONE, Ore. - An 11-year-old boy floating the Clackamas River with members of his Boy Scout Troop drowned Saturday after his canoe capsized near High Rocks Park, authorities said.  The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office identified the boy as Finn Terry of northeast Portland. According to the sheriff's office, the scouts from Troop 107 were floating in several canoes from Barton Park to Clackamette Park Saturday when the canoe occupied by both the 11-year-old and a man capsized near the Interstate 205 bridge about 5:30 p.m. Both the man and the boy, who were wearing life jackets, were swept downstream in the 43-degree water.

Other boaters as well as American Medical Response lifeguards on duty in the area tried to rescue the pair. The man was pulled to safety while the boy went underwater and never surfaced, the sheriff's office said. "The current was just too strong and swift," one of the lifeguards was quoted as saying. The boy's body was later recovered in the area. Authorities speculated that debris in the water or the hydraulics in this section of the river may have contributed to causing the boy's death. "The water's just way too rough, way too fast, way too cold," said Gladstone Fire Chief John Figini. Steve Terry, the boy's father, described his son Sunday as "a budding poet, a dreamer, a baseball player, a scout, a dancer, an actor and a sweet, sweet boy."

Barton to Clackamette is the lower 14 miles of the river before it joins the Willamette in Portland and I've done the upper 6 miles. There is some class II on that section--fairly straightforward for someone with basic river experience but it could be challenging for those without river skills. If they made it all the way to the Highway 205 bridge that's about the end of the run and I thought it got pretty flat at the bottom. Flows are high though now and I can see how a canoe could get into trouble.

Portland Oregonian

Saturday, 11-year-old Terry and a Scout leader in the boat with him had  tipped over just under a bridge. The drama unfolded in front of the  three American Medical Response lifeguards, who monitor the area from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The adult rode the swamped canoe down as it sank on its way past the lifeguard station and was pulled from the water by the rescuers.
But Terry, a tow-headed sixth-grader, had vanished beneath the surging green waters 20 feet from shore.

As Richards and his crew raced upstream, another group that included  paramedic Scott Brawner of Tualatin Valley Fire &Rescue was ahead of them. The TVF&R crew was already at work the last place Terry had been seen. They lowered an underwater camera beneath the waves and spotted the boy's body within minutes. Richards continued on to the scene, anyway, to help retrieve the body.

Wrapped around Finn's wrist was the rope from a throw bag, a rescue  device he apparently grabbed as the boat went over. Brawner believes  Terry might have grabbed the rope and bag in an attempt to save his boatmate. "I'm sure the whole time he thought he was going to save somebody else," said Brawner, the father of an 11-year-old boy himself.

The safety line -- which is 50 feet long with a weighted bag at the end was looped around Terry's wrist at one end and trapped underwater, on a limb or rock, at the other. A device intended to save a swimmer in distress had trapped the boy six feet below the surface in water 10 feet deep. The Clackamas County  medical examiner said Tuesday that the official cause of death was  accidental drowning. It was a fluke accident,

Richards and Brawner agreed. Even with the  proper equipment, a boy died. Rescuers eventually untangled Finn from the line and pulled him onto a boat. When they rolled the boy over, Brawner said he was shocked. "He had the face of an angel."

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