By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Willamette River claims Mac youth

Sheriff Jack Crabtree identified the victim as Anthony Jimenez. Crabtree said he was swimming with friends near a popular area known as “Donkey Ponds” accessed from Southeast Dorsey Road.

Two Yamhill County Marine Patrol boats responded, along with the Newberg Fire Department Dive Rescue Team and personnel from the Dayton Fire Department.

They were not able to recover the body Sunday, but returned Monday to resume efforts, according to Sheriff’s Capt. Ron Huber. The Polk County Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol also joined in the search. Sonar was used.

Huber said a reserve deputy with a pilot’s license was planning to conduct an aerial search Monday as well.

The sheriff’s office said the drowning occurred on a day when the rocky riverside beach was packed with people trying to beat the heat. It 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 intended to swim across to the Marion County side, but only Angel made it.

Jimenez and Judson began struggling and calling for help. Kenny Johnson and Ryan Lee were able to reach Judson and get him to shore for transport to the Willamette Valley Medical Center for observation. Jimenez disappeared.

“There were probably 750 to 1,000 people on that beach,” Huber said. “A lot of people go there on hot days. The road leading in is double-parked with cars. People hike in. It’s not a sandy beach. It’s river rock, like you would find at the Wheatland Ferry.”

Huber added,  “In this area, the river goes out to about waist deep, but gets much deeper on what would be the east side of the river, the Marion County side. The current is probably moving 10 to 15 miles an hour. It’s deep and fast.”

None of the three was wearing a life jacket, and only Angel could be considered a strong swimmer, he said.

A Facebook page is dedicated to Donkey Ponds. Fans regularly post pictures and comments about what they’ve been doing at the beach — swimming, fishing and showing off four-wheel drive vehicles. On Monday, numerous comments referred to the drowning, asking people to pray for Jimenez and his family.

Two other drownings were also reported Sunday in Northwest Oregon.

A pre-school child was reported missing in the Sandy River at Glen Otto Park in Troutdale. The child was playing in shallow water with another child when they ventured into deeper water. Lifeguards succeeded in rescuing one, but could not reach the other.

Meanwhile, a 19-year-old Salem youth fell off an inner tube and drowned in the Molalla River. His body was recovered.

The heat also proved fatal to a flock of unshorn sheep in rural Marion County. Circling buzzards led neighbors to discover 30 to 40 sheep dead in a field near Turner.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Don Thomson said they were among 200 sheep grazing on about 80 acres of grass. He said a container dispensing a liquid mix of water, molasses and protein supplement was available to them.

Neighbors said they have long been concerned about the care being provided to the animals.

The heat was expected to continue through Wednesday, then ease. A heat advisory is in effect until 9 this evening for Northwest Oregon, including the Yamhill Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters were predicting highs in the 90s on the west side of the Cascades and 100s on the east side. A marine flow was expected to begin bringing some relief Thursday, dropping local highs into the low 80s Thursday and high 70s Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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