Salem boy vanishes in Willamette River at park

Boy disappears while swimming in Willamette River

SALEM, Ore. – Crews spent hours Friday night searching for an 11-year-old boy who went underwater in the Willamette River in Salem and has not been seen since.

Lt. Dave Okada of Salem police said they received reports at around 3:50 p.m. that a child swimming at Wallace Marine Park went under. The boy was identified as Nehemiah Wilson of Salem.

Wilson was swimming near the old boat ramp of the park and underneath a pedestrian bridge when he appeared to become distressed and in need of help. He was not wearing a life jacket, Okada said.

"He didn't mean to swim out," witness Brody Johnson said. "He was probably just sitting there or walking around in the shallow water and he slipped and got pulled out by the current."

Okada said the water is cold and the current is deceptively quick right now.

Officers were on scene in two minutes but the boy had already disappeared. People at the park attempted to save the boy but it appeared to be too late.

"Nine people ran out and then one person got really close, may 5-10 yards, before everyone lost sight of him," Johnson said.

Crews from the Salem Fire Department, Polk County Sheriff's Office, Linn County Sheriff's Office, and Benton County Sheriff's Office assisted with the search, both in the water and in the air.

The search was suspended Friday night due to darkness and resumed again Saturday morning.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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