By News-Register staff • 

Woodburn man drowns in the Willamette River - Copy 1

Woodburn man drowned late Thursday afternoon in the Willamette River in the area of the Wheatland Ferry.

The Yamhill County Sheriff's Office identified him as Alfredo Perez-Mendez, 22.

He's the third individual to drown in the Willamette this summer, and the secondto have lost his life in the area of the ferry.

The sheriff's office gave this account:

The Yamhill Communications Agency 911 dispatch center received a 911 call about 5:15 p.m. from a cell phone that plotted in the area of the ferry.

Due to a language barrier, YCOM attempted to transfer the call to the language line for translation assistance. The caller hung up during the transfer. After three attempts to call the original caller back and get them connected to the language line, YCOM notified a sheriff's office patrol boat working on the river regarding the incomplete 911 call.

Marine safety officer Jose Dominguez contacted the caller by phone and located the caller with a group of people on the Marion County shoreline just north of the Wheatland Ferry landing, near the Willamette Mission State Park boat ramp. 

Dominguez and boat captain deputy Rob VandeBergh learned that a male had gone into the river and went under and had not resurfaced 15 minutes earlier.

Additional resources were requested and VandeBergh and Dominguez began a search from the patrol boat. They located the victim on the bottom of the river in about 13 feet of water near the Willamette Mission Boat Ramp.

Sheriff's office personnel, with the aid of two good Samaritans, tied a rope around the victim and pulled him to the boat. CPR was started on the boat and he was transported to the Yamhill County side of the Wheatland Ferry landing to await fire and emergency medical service personnel from the McMinnville Fire Department and Dayton Fire District.

Perez was pronounced dead at the scene. His family, which lives in Guatemala, was notified of the tragedy.

He was not wearing a personal flotation device and did not know how to swim, according to the sheriff's office.

The agency reminds waterway users that the river has a strong current. The shoreline along Willamette Mission State Park has a steep drop-off, where the river depth increases from approximately 5 to 12 feet in a very short span.



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