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Officials warn swimmers about Portland-area rivers after two incidents Friday

One person drowned in the Columbia River near Kelley Point Park and another went under near Sauvie Island and hasn't been found.

PORTLAND, Ore. — After two drowning incidents on the Columbia River on Friday, deputy Scott McDowell with Multnomah County River Patrol is reminding the public of the dangers of the river.

“Pretty much all along the Columbia is all the same, it's unpredictable… You can walk out, in some areas, 100 feet or more away from shore and you're knee deep and then all of a sudden you're in over your head,” McDowell said.

One of the incidents happened near Kelley Point Park in Portland, where the Willamette and Columbia rivers meet. The sheriff's office responded to a man who went under the water at around 10 p.m. His body was pulled from the river about an hour later. He was identified as 22-year-old Carlos Lara-Escudero, of Portland 

RELATED: Deputies identify swimmer who drowned in Columbia River near Kelley Point Park

There are dozens of signs posted around Kelley Point Park warning beachgoers not to enter the water. The signs are in several different languages. They were put out following two deaths in the river in 2016.

Credit: KGW
Warning signs at Kelley Point Park

The other incident occurred earlier Friday evening just off Sauvie Island, between Willow Bar and Reeder Beach. A man was seen struggling in the water and vanished at around 5:45 p.m. The man wasn't found after a search Friday night and Saturday. 

RELATED: Search continues for possible drowning victim in Columbia River near Sauvie Island

In the Sauvie Island incident, witnesses told KGW they tried to help the man, but he disappeared. They then called 911.

That's exactly what McDowell said you should do if you encounter someone struggling in the water.

“It's called reach, throw, row and go,” he said.

  • Reach: First, reach for the person if you are close enough to pull them out of the water.
  • Throw: Throw a flotation device to them.
  • Row: If you are in a boat row out to the person to help bring them in safely.
  • Go: Finally, call 911.

“There's a lot of resources out on the Columbia and Willamette rivers that can get to people very quickly – if we know that it's going on,” McDowell said.

McDowell said these tragic indigents serve as a safety reminder for swimmers and it starts by knowing your limitations.

“Know that if you don't know how to swim or can't swim very well that you need to wear a life jacket. Wear something, or don't go in the water,” he said.

When it comes to life jackets, McDowell means actual life jackets. He said the sheriff’s office has been coming across people who are not strong swimmers using pool floaties to stay afloat. But he said the floaties are no match for 20 mph winds and three-foot waves that can often come about, without warning.

More safety tips from the Red Cross