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Newberg teen drowns in Clackamas River

Community pushes for water and boating safety

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: ESTACADA RURAL FIRE DISTRICT - Multiple agencies responded to reports of a swimmer in distress in the Clackamas River at Milo McIver State Park on Wednesday, June 29. The swimmer did not survive the incident.A man who drowned in the Clackamas River Wednesday evening near Estacada has been identified as 18-year-old Brandt W. Hatch of Newberg. The victim's family has been notified.

First responders arrived at 5 p.m. to Milo McIver State Park on a report of a possible drowning. The teen had attempted to swim across the cold and swift river with friends. Hatch did not make it to the other side.

Rescuers from Estacada Rural Fire District, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Clackamas County Fire District No. 1, Lake Oswego Fire, Gladstone Fire Department and American Medical Response learned from witnesses that the man had been underwater for 10 minutes before rescue attempts were made. None of the swimmers were wearing personal floatation devices.

Divers found Hatch's body in the river where friends last saw him.

Among all states, Oregon has the 10th highest death-by-drowning rate, according to the Center for Disease Control-Oregon Health Division. One-third of the drownings occur in rivers.

The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office reminds anyone swimming or boating in public waterways to always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved floatation device

Those who do not own a life jacket can pick one up for free at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 2, at Barton Park, off Highway 211 near Eagle Creek.

Every year, nonprofit Meg’s Moments for Life Jackets gives away free PFDs in Barton Park to prevent more senseless drowning deaths. The organization was created in honor of Meagan O’Meara-Clark, who drowned while rafting on the Clackamas River in July 2013. O’Meara-Clark was 26, and not wearing a life jacket.

The life jackets are purchased through donations from citizens and the Clackamas Emergency Services Foundation, an organization that helps address humanitarian need in the community. This year, the Clackamas Emergency Services Foundation donated $2,000 to purchase life jackets.

Meg’s Moments for Life Jackets will be joined by Clackamas Fire District’s No. 1’s Water Rescue Team from Station 8, who will help distribute the jackets and educate the public on water safety.