PORTLAND -- Six people drowned in Oregon and Southwest Washington in the past week, and none of them had life jackets on. A seventh person died while kite surfing at the coast.
The Coast Guard suspended its search for an 11-year-old girl off the coast of Long Beach, Washington Thursday night. She and her 10-year-old brother had been playing in the waves when a rip current pulled them both out into the water. Witnesses saw her vanish under the waves, but the boy was rescued after treading water for a half hour.
Also Thursday, a 49-year-old off-duty firefighter was found unconscious in the ocean by a friend who was kite surfing with him in Lincoln City. Rescuers tried to save Dale Johnson on the beach and at the hospital, but he didn't make it.
A 42-year-old Vancouver man drowned swimming in Klineline Pond at Salmon Creek Park Wednesday. Pioneer Kelulau had jumped in to retrieve a hat that had blown into the 30-foot deep water. His family said he was an excellent swimmer, but wasn't ready for the 50-degree temperature. His body was recovered by rescue divers Thursday.
Klineline Pond loans out free life jackets to swimmers everyday, as well as has life guards on duty until 7 p.m.
An Aloha 16-year-old drowned while trying to save his younger brother at Wildwood Falls near Cottage Grove on Tuesday. Both slipped on the rocks and fell through a narrow chute into the water below. The younger brother survived.
Then two fishermen died in separate accidents on the Lewis River in Clark County, Washington when they fell out of their boats. Another man died after jumping into the Lewis River near Moulton Falls.
A Cowlitz County man saved his girlfriend's two daughters from drowning in the Toutle River Thursday, but he said all of them are very fortunate to have made it out of the water alive.
Law enforcement officials all over Oregon and Washington stress the water is still very cold to be swimming, and ask that anyone planning to be near the water wears a life jacket.