Accident Database

Report ID# 90875

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Hypothermia
  • Cold Water
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

This is a big, wide river with fast current and lots of eddies. The victim fell in the water and sank, so a life vest was not used.

Saul Gallegos Ruiz was 27-year-old mixed martial arts fighter from Happy Valley. Young and fit; no match for cold water with no PFD  

Frfom Brian Christopher: 

Mr. Raul capsized 100 meters off this boat ramp. Direction of the wind played a big part in how Raul overturned his boat.  There was a fetch of about 2 miles blowing north to south.  This caused some pretty big waves on a 70 degree day.  Raul had his shirt off and once enough water came over his coaming the pelican overturned. The Willamette features many different types of paddling but this section was for the most part is rather calm and navigable in both directions.

Pacific Northwest

Marine rescue crews call off search for missing kayaker, presumed drowned

Posted Apr 19, 2020

By Jeff Manning | The Oregonian/OregonLive

After searching the Willamette River for 15 hours, the Clackamas County Water Rescue Consortium called off their search for a missing kayaker late Friday. Authorities identified the victim as Saul Gallegos Ruiz, 23, of Happy Valley.

At around 4:23 p.m., observers called 911 saying a boater had flipped his kayak near the Elk Rock area of the river as it flows by Milwaukie. Several onlookers tried to help. But by the time they got to him, he was submerged. He was reportedly not wearing a life jacket.

Rescuers, including scuba divers, searched for Ruiz until 11 p.m. that night and returned to the river for another nine hours of searching on Friday. Ruiz’ body was never found. Oregon rivers are generally flowing fast and cold in April as the Cascade snowpack begins to melt.

Clackamas County, OR

Divers search for kayaker presumed drowned in Willamette River near Milwaukie

Posted Apr 16, 2020

Dive teams search for man in Willamette River

Emergency responders searched the Willamette River for hours Thursday after a man fell out of his boat near Milwaukie. 

By Jayati Ramakrishnan | The Portland Oregonian/OregonLive

Clackamas County rescue crews believe a man drowned Thursday in the Willamette River after the kayak he was riding in overturned. Witnesses saw the kayak flip near Spring Park in Milwaukie around 4:20 p.m., according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies said people nearby tried to help the man, but couldn’t find him after he went under water.

First responders and divers from several agencies have spent hours searching for the man, but so far haven’t found him, said Clackamas Fire District #1 Lt. Brandon Paxton. 

This is the second drowning in as many days in the Portland area. One person drowned Wednesday in the Columbia River near Hayden Island after the canoe they were riding in flipped.

—Jayati Ramakrishnan; 503-221-4320;; 

MILWAUKIE, OR (KPTV) - The body of a man who drowned while kayaking earlier this month has been recovered, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. The sheriff's office said the body of Saul Gallegos Ruiz, 27, was recovered near Elk Rock Island Monday evening.

Gallegos Ruiz was kayaking along the Willamette River on April 16 when he fell out of the kayak and did not resurface. Rescue teams searched for Gallegos Ruiz but were unsuccessful in locating his body.

The sheriff's office said Gallegos Ruiz's family requested assistance from Gene and

On Monday, the Ralston's deployed a boat outfitted with specialized equipment to aid in the search for bodies underwater. The sheriff's office said they quickly located their first images of Gallegos Ruiz's body.

Divers went into the water at around 7 p.m. and recovered the body at a depth of about 75 feet, according to the sheriff's office. The sheriff's office said the Gallegos Ruiz family was aware of the search update. At least a hundred family members and friends were at the Jefferson Boat Ramp in Milwaukie during the recovery operation.

Positive identification of Gallegos Ruiz's body was made at the boat ramp, according to the sheriff's office.

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