1 dies after four pulled from capsized boat on the Columbia River
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, Ore. —
5 P.M. Coverage
One of the four people pulled from the Columbia River on Friday morning after a research boat sunk has died.
The research boat belonged to the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC). All four on board were CRITFC technicians.
"As you can imagine, this is a sad day for our office and the individual's family," Sara Thompson, with the commission, said.
Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Lt. Chad Gaidos said a driver headed west on I-84 spotted the boat taking on water and called for help.
"Initially those people were able to get to the top of the boat and float on top. Although after a while it was overtaken by the waves," the lieutenant said.
The boat took on water by Buoy 83 near Multnomah Falls around 10 a.m.
Chief Dave Flood with the Corbett Fire Department was one of the first on scene.
The chief said, “[The boat] sunk shortly thereafter. Gresham [Fire] boat came out and picked the four up and brought them to shore.”
Flood said three men and one woman were rescued.
Two men and the woman suffered severe hypothermia. One person was taken to Mount Hood Medical Center. Two others were taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.
The third man suffered life-threatening injuries. He was taken by LifeFlight to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, but succumbed to his injuries. His name has not been released.
"The water is still very cold. And, they were not dressed in gear that would prevent them from hypothermia, so that is certainly a factor," said Gaidos. They did have life vests on when they went into the water. Obviously, that is what made us able to rescue them. The swift current, tall waves, it’s very choppy, very windy out here right now. So that makes it challenging. Without life vests this could be a different story."
CRITFC issued a statement to KATU News about the capsized research boat.
"This accident serves as a constant reminder of the dangers associated with the Columbia River, even for the most experienced. All four are highly trained and log hundreds of hours on the Columbia River each year. We would like to thank the first responders that were part of the rescue and to those who provided medical attention. Our priority at this time is the care and welfare of our staff.”
Officials are asking folks to be extra careful if they decide to go to the Columbia River.
"Know your conditions and your vessel. Also be prepared, life vest, proper clothing on. If you can avoid it or find another day, you might be better off. Obviously this isn’t routine weather for us," said Gaidos.
Corbett Fire Department, Gresham Fire Department, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and American Medical Response all assisted in the rescue.