The body of a Ridgefield pastor who went missing in the Columbia River was found Thursday night by boaters.
Around 6:30 p.m., Skamania County sheriff’s deputies recovered Andrew Inskeep, 44, from the river near Milepost 54 of state Highway 14, according to a news release from the Hood River County, Ore., Sheriff’s Office, which initiated the search efforts.
Inskeep was a pastor at Ridgefield Church of the Nazarene. He was visiting Hood River as part of a youth outing, which included 18 kids and adults at Marina Beach.
Hood River deputies reported that 911 calls came in shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday about five to six swimmers in distress in the river off the sandbar. Hood River police officers responded and found two swimmers from the church were unaccounted for, Inskeep and an 11-year-old boy who was not identified due to his age.
Shortly after, someone on the Washington side of the river spotted the boy floating near the mouth of White Salmon River, according to the sheriff’s office. Authorities arrived in the area and pulled him out of the water at 7:38 p.m.
The boy was taken to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Officials continued searching for Inskeep. Multiple law enforcement agencies in Oregon and Washington joined the effort. Hood River deputies flew an airplane over the area, but the operation was called off after dark. The search started again Thursday morning with a dive team.
Of the swimmers who were initially reported as struggling in the water, the others were able to either reach safety themselves or were rescued by adult church sponsors or nearby windsurfers.
Ridgefield Church of the Nazarene Pastor Jason Matters has asked that the families and church community be given space to grieve as they deal with the tragedy.