LINN COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - A Scio teen drowned after his raft overturned in the McKenzie River. Police say Jeremiah Dale Eatherton, 16, and a friend hiked back upstream to float a section of the McKenzie River for the second time in a row. But it was on this extra run that their raft became caught on a tree. It was stuck about 100 yards upstream from the bridge at Carmen Reservoir when both rafters fell out of the raft. The water that runs through this area is described as very cold with fast water churning over rocks and downed trees.
Eatherton was swept away by the current after being knocked out of the raft. His body was found just a short distance downstream. Police say that both rafters were wearing life jackets when the accident occurred.
A 16-year-old Scio boy died Saturday in a rafting accident near Koosah Falls on the McKenzie River on Highway 126, according to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office. Jeremiah Dale Eatherton was rafting with a friend, Daniel Wayne Sutton, 20, also of Scio, near the Carmen and Smith Reservoir, bridge according to Undersheriff Bruce Riley. Carmen and Smith is south of Clear Lake.
“We got the call about a water rescue about 1:30 Saturday afternoon,” Riley said. “The body was recovered about an hour later.” Riley said Eatherton and Sutton had made one trip down the treacherous stretch of river and had gone back upstream to make another run. “They were in a four-person inflatable rubber raft,” Riley said. “On their second time down river, the raft approached some logs that were stuck in the river. It got stuck and both occupants were flipped out.” Riley said Sutton was able to escape the river, but Eatherton was swept downstream. His body was found about 100 yards from the bridge.
“It’s a really rough spot in the river,” Riley said. “It’s not typically where people raft, and I don’t think their raft was made for this type of rushing water. Our deputy said it was very cold water and the rapids were churning on the rocks and trees.” Riley said Eatherton and Sutton were wearing life jackets.
Sutton summoned passersby for assistance, and the 911 call was placed from a pay phone at the nearby Trail Bridge Campground. Eatherton’s mother is Ettie Jean Hendricks of Scio. Sutton lives with the family, according to Riley. He said the two were camped nearby and bow hunting season had opened that morning. The two planned to camp two weeks. Riley said the Linn County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the U.S. Forest Service, Lane County Sheriff’s Office and the Black Butte Police Department. Eatherton’s body was taken to Sweet Home Funeral Chapel.