By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Body of drowning victim recovered

The body was spotted from a boat operated by the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office’s Marine Patrol unit, according to Sheriff Jack Crabtree. It was transported to Macy & Son Funeral Directors, he said.

“That was good it was our boat that made the discovery,” he said. “It’s a tough deal when a fisherman or someone else does that.

“This was a tragic incident, but the recovery does bring some closure for the family. It’s been a long stretch of time for the family.”

Patrol boats from Polk and Yamhill counties were joined in the search by the Newberg Fire Department’s Dive Rescue Team, Polk County cadaver dogs, a plane flown by county sheriff reserve and a helicopter belonging to a Portland television station. The search took three days.

The drowning occurred on a day when the rocky riverside beach, located in vicinity of the so-called “Donkey Ponds,” was packed with people trying to cool off. With the temperature topping out at 96, an estimated 750 to 1,000 people were on the scene at the time.

The sheriff’s office gave this account:

Jimenez entered the river on the Yamhill County side with 22-year-old Kevin Judson of Dayton and 21-year-old Derek Angel of McMinnville. They aimed to traverse a swift and deep channel to reach the Marion County side, but only Angel made it.

Jimenez and Judson began struggling and calling for help. Kenny Johnson and Ryan Lee reached Judson, and got him to shore for transport to the Willamette Valley Medical Center for observation, but Jimenez disappeared.

None of the three was wearing a life jacket, and only Angel could be considered an accomplished swimmer.

In the area where Jimenez drowned, the river starts out only about waist deep. But it gets deeper and faster-moving on the Marion County side to the east.

Crabtree said the water temperature has been running about 70 degrees and the current about 10 mph — a lot faster and more forceful than it looks. He the river is probably 75 to 100 yards wide at that point, equivalent to 225 to 300 feet.

“The standard answer to how something like this can be prevented is to wear a life jacket,” he said. “But I would further say, you have to understand your limits.

“People say, ‘I’m going to swim across the river,’ and they underestimate the distance and the current. It’s not a real swift current, but it’s swift enough to create fatigue if you swim against it.”

Crabtree offered this advice for swimmers who get into trouble: “If you feel the current pulling you, don’t fight it. You’re not going to win that battle. Go with the current downstream and work your way over to the bank.”

In another weather-related development, about three-dozen sheep reported to have succumbed to the heat actually fell victim to an infection, according to necropsies performed by Oregon State University. Owner David Etzel said they had plenty of food and water, and the necropsies showed they were adequately hydrated.

Circling buzzards led neighbors to discover the dead sheep Sunday. Etzel moved 350 surviving sheep to another field and put them on antibiotics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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