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Firefighters welcome life jacket donations

In the wake of Saturday’s dramatic rescue at Hagg Lake, a common question has been: “Why weren’t the children involved wearing life jackets?”

It’s likely that since the water near the shore was so shallow, the adults in the group didn’t think it was necessary, not knowing about the deep drop-off several yards out.

Gaston fire officials used the incident as a reminder that life jackets are advised for anyone who is in Hagg Lake, regardless of where they are or what they are doing.

And, for the past four summers, the fire department has helped provide free personal flotation devices at two kiosks at the lake.

The “Kids Don’t Float” initiative was launched in 2009 by Hillsboro resident Kyle Giesbers as his Eagle Scout project.

Kiosks are located at Boat Ramp C and the Sain Creek picnic area, where Saturday’s incident took place.

Those involved in the rescue said there were only a couple jackets available at the time the group of children nearly drowned.

Gaston fire spokesman Ken Bilderback said the program is receiving ongoing financial support from a Newberg couple whose son drowned in 1998, but donations of life jackets (new or used) or financial contributions are still very much welcome.

Donations will be accepted at any fire station in Forest Grove, Gaston or Hillsboro.