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Deschutes River claims OC girl's life

A summertime adventure ended in tragedy for an Oregon City girl on July 6. Danielle Hagler, 17, died when the raft she was riding in flipped over while passing through the White Horse Rapids on the Deschutes River.

'Four people went into the water - three came up, one didn't,' said Chief Deputy Steve Conover of the Wasco County Sheriff's Office.

The accident occurred 20 miles south of Maupin, a little after 5 p.m. The survivors paddled to shore and notified local authorities, who rushed to the scene and began a search for Hagler.

Her body was discovered on July 9 using an underwater camera, which revealed that she was pinned against a submerged boulder - held fast by the tremendous pressure of the swift-moving river.

That same day, a privately owned rescue boat sank while attempting to recover Hagler's body. Its crew was able to get safely to shore, although the craft became lodged against the rapids, creating a hazard to navigation on the river.

Beginning at 5 a.m. on July 15, Portland General Electric reduced the flow of water through the Pelton Dam above the accident site, allowing rescuers to retrieve Hagler. She was wearing a life jacket at the time of the mishap, and the trip was led by experienced river rafters.

The death of the Oregon City High School senior came as a blow to her family and her church group.

'It's a very sad story,' said Bishop Dan Bean of the Newell Creek Ward, one of eight wards that comprise the Oregon City Stake - the name given to a group of congregations by the Latter-Day Saints.

'There were 14 girls on this trip, from all of the different wards. They were planning a 48-mile, three-day trip,' said Bean. 'After the accident, they paddled about half a mile down stream and camped there. The next day, they paddled another two miles, to the place they planned to camp on the first night of their trip.

'We had people waiting there to meet them, and we took them straight home.'

Hagler was president of the ward's group for young women, known as 'Laurels' in the LDS.

'She was a very outgoing, friendly person,' Bean recalled. 'She loved children.'

The eldest of six brothers and sisters, Hagler had begun to take piano lessons, and performed in her first recital in June.

Her mother and father have made several trips to the scene of the accident during the initial search and the subsequent recovery efforts.

'They are doing as well as you could expect,' said Bean.