TYGH VALLEY, Ore - The bodies of two drowning victims during a church outing to White River Falls south of The Dalles Monday have been found.
Youth group leader 26-year-old Brett McLean, of Portland, and 15-year-old Caleb Justice, from Camas, drowned. The two were trying to walk behind the falls to take a photo when they slipped into the pool below, according to the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office.
Witnesses tried to rescue McLean and Justice, but could not reach them before they disappeared underwater. Church members said McLean had jumped into the water to try and save Justice.
Divers spent the entire day in the water Tuesday, searching for the bodies in the turbulent water. They were found in late afternoon, police said.
"This pool is extremely hydraulic. It boils and churns and runs a lot of water out, so there are a lot of undercurrents," said Undersheriff Lane Magill of the Wasco County Sheriff's Office. "There's a lot of big boulders in there that you can actually see."
Justice was part of the youth group from River Rock Church in Camas. He was one of about 150 kids attending the "Experience the Valley Youth Camp," a summer program for kids in the Tygh Valley that involves seven churches from the Portland and Vancouver areas.
McLean was a youth leader from the Harvest Community Church, also in Camas. His pastor said McLean had a big impact on area youngsters in the many years he's been involved in their church programs.
A message on River Rock’s Facebook page said "Please be in prayer for the Justice family today. Their son Caleb drowned while swimming at camp." The church also released a statement that encouraged everyone to support the families as they deal with the tragedy. "Please be in prayer for them and that our Lord will comfort them and be their strength. Our hearts are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of two precious lives and we will continue to pray and support their families through their ordeal," it said.
Harvest Community Church was also organizing a prayer session for 7 p.m. at the church Tuesday.
The park area of White River Falls was closed Tuesday, as the investigation continued.