Rescue teams find missing rafters
Father, two young daughters cold and wet but uninjured
Monday, June 7, 2010
A large group of law enforcement and rescue agencies located and came to the aid of a father and his two daughters after a rafting mishap Saturday on the East Fork of the Lewis River.
Clark County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Shane Gardner said Heith Hammond, 31, and his two daughters, ages 9 and 10, were rescued about 12:30 a.m. Sunday.
The girls’ names were not available. Gardner said the family is from Orchards.
It started out as a family trip with two rubber rafts at Lewisville Park, north of Battle Ground. The plan was to float the East Fork to the Storedahl Pit area. Heith Hammond’s raft moved much slower and the rafts became separated about one-quarter to a half a mile east of the Daybreak Bridge, Gardner said.
After waiting at the takeout point for nearly three hours, family members called 911. They said the girls were wearing flotation devices.
Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to Daybreak Park and began coordinating search efforts.
The search effort included the La Center Police Department, Portland Police Air Unit, the Regional Tactical Rescue Team (made up of Vancouver Fire and District 6 Fire departments), American Medical Response, and about 20 ground searchers from Clark County Sheriff’s Office Civilian Search and Rescue Team. Other groups helping included the Silver Star Search and Rescue Team and the Volcano Rescue Team.
Gardner said, “Many of the ground searchers had been involved in the all-day search for the missing child in Multnomah County, yet still responded to this call out.”
Gardner explained, “Two boats were deployed on the river, one from Daybreak to head downriver to the planned extraction point, and one from the original starting point at Lewisville Park to float down to the Daybreak boat ramp. The air unit flew the river looking with a FLIR (thermal imaging night vision device), and ground units were deployed to the north and south side of the river.”
Gardner said the three family members were cold and wet, but uninjured. The raft they were using (vinyl and designed for two) had been punctured.
“Because of the recent rains and fast-moving water, the family could not move off the sandy shore they were stranded on. They had lost their shoes, so rescuers had to transport them by raft back to the boat launch at Daybreak Park. Once they arrived, they were checked by AMR, released and reunited with family.”
An effort to reach the family for comment was unsuccessful.