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Recovery effort fails on Sandy River

18-year-old man was presumed drowned Jan. 14 but has not been found


The teenager who was reported swept away by the force of the Sandy River near the site of the former Marmot Dam the morning of Jan. 14 has not been found, said a spokesman for the search and rescue team.

The initial search and rescue effort was hampered by severe weather in the area, which included falling snow, ice on the roads and at the river’s edge, water temperature of 35 degrees, air temperature of 27 degrees and water flow that was high-volume and very fast.

The victim has been identified as Joseph Arnold Deseranno, 18, of Milwaukie, who was steelhead fishing with a friend Jan. 14.

His friend told rescuers Deseranno tried to wade across the Sandy River but slipped and fell into the water. He was wearing hip-waders and a camouflage coat but was not wearing any type of flotation device.

Deseranno’s friend could not find him in the river and called 9-1-1, a sheriff’s office spokesman said.

Rescuers spent more than four hours Jan. 14 combing all of the accessible areas along the river’s edge for about a mile downstream. The second day, Jan. 15, the weather conditions were similar, which prevented any type of aerial search.

By the second day, the air temperature had warmed to 33 degrees and the snow had stopped falling, but conditions at the river’s edge remained icy. Water temperature was still at 35 degrees and flowing rapidly.

“Treacherous search conditions make it unlikely searchers will return (a third day),” according to a Jan. 15 press release from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

First responder to the river site, about 6 miles northeast of Sandy, was Sandy Fire’s Swift Water Rescue Team. Assisting were personnel from the Hoodland Fire District and American Medical Response paramedics as well as water rescue teams from Clackamas Fire District No. 1, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue and the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue is in charge of recovery efforts.