Kayaker drowns on White Salmon River
FIGHTING THE WATER: Search and Rescue personnel struggle to reach a kayaker trapped under swift water Wednesday on the White Salmon River.
Klickitat County Search and Rescue (SAR) along with other rescue agencies ventured out this last week on another perilous mission, but unlike an expedition earlier in the summer, this one ended in tragedy.
At about 8 p.m. last Wednesday, Aug. 1, Klickitat County 911 Dispatch received a report of a kayaker who had become wedged underwater in a log jam on the White Salmon River, about two miles north of BZ Corner.
SAR team members responded and assessed the situation. The location was in a stretch of heavy rapids, within a 100-foot Gorge, shanked by cliffs in an area with very limited access. The victim was identified as 27-year-old Christopher Alan Schwer of Morgantown, W.V. Schwer had been kayaking with local friends when the accident occurred.
Nineteen volunteers from Klickitat County SAR, five from Skamania County’s Wind River SAR and seven trained water-rescue staff from Wet Planet rafting joined together, forming water rescue, rope rescue and rough-land evacuation teams, and launched a recovery mission Thursday morning. The teams deployed three different rope systems—two at water’s edge and one from the cliff above. Through the efforts of volunteers trained in high angle and swift water rescue, the body was recovered at about 7 p.m. Thursday evening.
In all, 31 volunteers were involved in the mission. Jeff King, Klickitat County Search and Rescue Coordinator, stated, “It was an impressive collaboration, coming together to be able to accomplish this mission.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for SAR is asked to call (509) 773-4455.