Teen drowns in North Umpqua: 'It's just a tragic accident'
By Kat Wolcott KPIC News Published: Jul 30, 2012
DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. -- A Bend teenager has drowned on the North Umpqua River while rafting near Copeland Creek. On Sunday at about 2:40 p.m., the 911 center received a call of a boating accident near mile post 52 on Highway 138 East. A raft carrying seven people had capsized at the location. Nichole Pomeroy, 16, of Bend, became trapped in debris under water and drowned.
According to officials, Nichole had been camping with her friend and her friend's family at Eagle Rock campground. On Sunday afternoon, seven people took off on a rafting trip from Boulder Flat and planned on ending at Horseshoe Bend. But the raft capsized about a mile into their trip. The other passengers were able to make it to shore, but Nichole was trapped underwater.
Officials say she had been wearing a life jacket, which was found down river from the girl's body. "We're not clear at this point whether it came off when she went in the water or whether maybe she took it off trying to get free of the debris," said Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Dwes Hutson. The Sheriff's Office Dive Team, Search and Rescue, Marine Patrol, Fire District #2 Swift Water Rescue Team and Oregon State Police responded to the scene. Divers were unable to pull Pomeroy's body from the river. Weekly Construction responded and assisted divers but they were still unable to free Pomeroy from the debris.
Hutson told KPIC News that the girl had done everything right. "Everyone was wearing their life jackets," he said. "I mean, that's what we preach to people, and they were doing that. Sometimes these things just, unfortunately happen. It's just a tragic accident." Rescuers worked until about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, and were back at the scene Monday morning. One lane of Highway 138 East was closed for the recovery effort. Next of kin has been notified.