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Portland girl swept away by Clackamas River

Still no sign of missing girl as of Tuesday morning

When the Snegur family went to play in the snow on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 22, everything seemed normal.

The Portland family had found some snow on the side of the road near Austin Hot Springs east of Estacada, and that's when things went terribly wrong.

As 6-year-old Vinesa Snegur played in the snow between the road and the Clackamas River, her parents turned away for one moment. Before her parents knew it, Vinesa had slipped into the river and was being whisked away at extremely high speeds.

As any father would, Igor Snegur jumped into the water in pursuit of his daughter, but the water was just moving too fast. After he chased her along the bank as well, Vinesa eventually faded out of sight.

Well outside of cell service, Igor and his wife, Marina, drove their car seven miles to the Ripplebrook Ranger Station just after 4 p.m. In a small bit of good luck, the family was lucky enough to have found someone at the station and called 9-1-1.

The station houses a small store and just as the Snegurs arrived the employee was about to close up shop.

As quickly as they could, search and rescue teams began to assemble and make the trip toward where Vinesa was last seen, which is about 31 miles southeast of Estacada.

As daylight waned, the crews searched the areas that they could downstream from where Vinesa fell. Crews remained out throughout the night, monitoring the area for any movement or sign of the young girl.

As day broke Monday, Jan. 23, more than 50 searchers combed a four-mile area downstream. The team included divers, a K-9 unit and a handful of volunteers from across the state.

There also was a helicopter lined up to help, but inclement weather in Salem prevented it from reaching the area until later in the day.

There was still no sign of the girl late in the afternoon Monday, but searchers remained optimistic that their work was still a 'search' and not a 'recovery.'

What makes the search so difficult is not only the remoteness of the area being searched, but also the cold and snowy weather conditions.

'The very things that make this area fun also make it perilous,' said Sgt. James Rhodes of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. 'She could have been an Olympic swimmer and it wouldn't have mattered because the problem is the speed of the water, the amount of debris and the temperature.'

The water temperature is estimated to be about 33-degrees, while the outside temperatures have remained below 40-degrees throughout the search.

The family has yet to make a statement regarding the incident, but they have remained at the Ripplebrook Ranger Station since their arrival on Sunday.

'We just want to encourage people to love and protect their family,' Rhodes said. 'People don't understand how dangerous it is, and now is not the time to play near the water.'