Oregon River Claims Another Casualty

Walter Dines, 18, of Glen Burnie, Md., jumped from the high basalt cliff at Gladstone's High Rocks Park to join friends in the water, at the urging of older adults on the rocks. He struggled to swim across the cold, rain-swollen river, and began having problems immediately, reports say.

Witnesses said when he finally reached the side of the river and tried to pull himself out of the water, he fell back in and was swept away by the strong current. A dive-rescue team recovered Dines' body about a half-hour later in 24 feet of water.

The dangerous Clackamas River's swimming hole has been a place of recreation for thousands of local swimmers. But drowning incidents continue to rise. The river, located in Oregon's South Okanagan, has a tragic history of drownings and injuries stretching back for decades. This incident, however, was reportedly the first time anyone had drown with lifeguards in attendance.

One of the problems with the High Rocks area is a jurisdiction issue. The cliffs are on the Gladstone side of the river. The smaller rocks are in Oregon City. But river safety is the responsibility of the Clackamas County sheriff. Boaters, including kayakers, canoeists and rafters, fall under the Oregon State Marine Board. And American Medical Response, which provides ambulance service to most of Clackamas County, posts lifeguards between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

When accidents like this occur, knowing your rights - and who is ultimately responsible -- is important. The Doan Law Firm, P.C. has lengthy experience with drowning death and river drownings, and can give advice on number of facets of your experience. Contact The Doan Law Firm, P.C., led by drowning accident attorney Jimmy Doan, at 1 Riverway, Suite 1700, Houston, Texas 77056, (713) 869-4747 or (800) 910-FIRM.