TROUTDALE, Ore. -- In the parking lot at Glenn Otto Park, Tina Markowski gets all her river gear in order including one very important piece: her life jacket.
“I’m wearing my life vest the whole time,” she said proudly.
Markowski made sure her life jacket was on before she even stepped foot anywhere near the fast moving Sandy River. The reason? “We know there's been fatalities on the rivers,” she said.
Since the start of July, at least ten people have drowned in Oregon and Southwest Washington waterways.
The most recent drowning happened Tuesday in Marion County. A man was swimming in Butte Creek at Scotts Mills Park when the current pulled him under.
“People are underestimating the river. The current is moving much stronger than it looks, much faster than it looks,” explained Leah Gordon.
Gordon is a training officer with AMR and one of the lifeguards at Glenn Otto Park. Every day she’s on duty, she and her partner swim the Sandy to test just how strong the current is.
Hundreds of people come to Glenn Otto Park every day during the summer.
A sign warns them of the drowning dangers. Rescuers there said the recent spike in drownings may be due, in part, to warmer water.
“That water is actually a little warmer so people are probably venturing out in it a little bit longer than they normally would,” explained Lt. Reggy Becker with the Gresham Fire Department. “And that’s kind of taking the effects of the muscle cramping and stuff like that to where they are getting in trouble.”
Becker added that anytime you go into the water above the knee, you run the risk of getting swept in.
Shaylee Stevenson chose to put life jackets on her twins, who are almost 4.
“You never know. You can turn your head away for a second and your kid could get swept away, so yeah, it makes me feel a lot more comfortable,” she said.