On July 3, 2009 at approximately 1 p.m., the Hood River County 911 Dispatch Center received a call regarding a missing paddle boarder on the Columbia River near Wells Island.
The Hood River County Sheriff's Office, with the assistance of Skamania County Sheriff's Office (see report below), Columbia River Intertribal Enforcement, family and friends, as well as varied water enthusiasts continue the search for Paul Mann.
Available marine and air assets are being utilized for search efforts.
Mann, 48, San Francisco, Calif., was last seen sitting on his paddleboard between the Hook and Wells Island.
He is an experienced water sportsman who has been coming to the Gorge to windsurf for more than 20 years.
On July 7, 2009, just after 6:30 a.m., a person walking on the Columbia River's shore located the body of Mann.
Mann's body was located on "The Spit", which is a sandbar that extends into the Columbia River, near the Hood River Event Site.
Hood River County Marine Deputy Mike Anderson said, "This is a tragic loss but we are glad that the family has some closure in this devastating event. We are thankful for the help we received from citizens and surrounding law enforcement agencies that donated their time to assist in locating Mr. Mann."
Although the cause of death has yet to be determined, Mann is presumed to have drowned. An autopsy was scheduled.
Anderson went on to say, "We encourage everybody to use a life jacket when recreating on the Columbia or any other body of water".
On Saturday afternoon, July 4, 2009, The Wasco County Sheriff's Office received a call that a male adult had drowned near the boat ramp at Mayer State Park, near Rowena.
When deputies arrived it was determined that Daniel Diaz, 33, Kent, had jumped into the water to help another swimmer, who had been struggling in the water at the time.
According to witnesses, he had swam out to the distressed swimmer, began talking to him, and then they began swimming back to shore. A few moments later however, Diaz began to call for help himself and then went under and did not resurface, while the original distressed swimmer was able to make it safely to shore.
The Wasco County Search and Rescue Team, the Oregon State Police, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Police, and the Skamania County Sheriff's Dive Team (see report below) responded, and were able to subsequently locate and recover Diaz's body from the river.
The Skamania County Sheriff's Dive Team was requested by the Hood River County Sheriff's Office for a reported missing person in the Columbia River on July 3, 2009, at 3 p.m.
A group of paddle boarders were in the Columbia River when the group decided to leave. After the group had exited the water they realized one of their party was not with them. They returned to the water and located their friend's board and paddle floating in the area of Wells Island.
Hood River County Sheriff's Office and Intertribe Marine Patrols checked the area and were unable to find anyone. Skamania divers were requested and conducted underwater searches in three probable areas. No signs of the subject were found. Dive operations were suspended at nightfall.
The Skamania County Marine Patrol was requested to respond to the Columbia River upstream from the mouth of the Big White Salmon River for a report of a vessel on fire with reported injuries on July 4 at 3 a.m.
Deputies from Klickitat and Skamania counties, along with the White Salmon Police Department located a vessel floating downstream in the area of Well's Island. The Klickitat County Marine Patrol contacted the stranded vessel and towed them to shore.
Paramedics evaluated and treated one burn victim. The boating accident is being investigated by the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office.
The Wasco County Sheriff's Office in The Dalles requested the Skamania County Dive Team to respond to Mayer State Park for a reported subject that went underwater on July 4 at 5:30 p.m.
Wasco County, the Oregon State Patrol, and Intertribe Officers secured the area and the Skamania County Dive Team conducted an underwater search.
At 7:15 p.m., divers located the body of an adult male in 14-feet of water. The body was turned over to Wasco County deputies who are conducting the investigation.
One lane of I-84 westbound at milepost 92, west of Biggs, was closed on Thursday, July 2, 2009, for fire control. Fire crews were using the "slow" lane to position equipment to control a grass fire.
Traffic was backed up approximately eight miles.
Two people were injured in a three-vehicle accident on July 6, 2009, at approximately 1:40 p.m. The accident occurred on State Route 141 at milepost 8, six miles north of White Salmon.
According to the report, a 2002 Dodge Neon driven by Belinda Nares-Hernandez, 23, White Salmon, was southbound on SR 141. A 1989 Toyota Corolla, driven by Burt C. Kelley, 41, White Salmon, was also southbound on SR 141, behind the Neon. A third vehicle, a 1999 Plymouth Voyager driven by Jason L. Root, 46, Portland, was northbound on SR 141.
Nares-Hernandez stopped her vehicle in the southbound lane for another vehicle which was making a turn. Kelley's vehicle collided into the rear of Nares-Hernandez's car. Her car was pushed into the northbound lane and collided with Root's vehilce.
Nares-Hernandez suffered back pain and was taken to Skyline Hospital by an aid unit. Kelley suffered chest pain and was also transported to Skyline Hospital. Root was not injured.
Kelley was cited for following too close.
Two people suffered head injuries following a one-vehicle accident on July 3, 2009, at approximately 12:34 p.m. The accident occurred on SR 14 at milepost 123, nine miles west of Roosevelt.
According to the report, Nikhia L. Hillman, 15, Madras, Ore., was driving a 2003 Honda Civic eastbound on SR 14. The driver crossed the eastbound fog line, overcorrected, crossed the centerline and entered a broadside skid. The vehicle left the roadway on the westbound shoulder, rolled and struck a rock embankment.
Hillman suffered a head injury and was taken by Life Flight to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.
Robert Marven Cronkhite, 62, Madras, Ore., a passenger in the vehicle, also suffered a head injury. He was transported to Mid Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles.
Hillman was charged with negligent driving.
According to Oregon State Police (OSP) senior trooper Michael Holloran, on July 1, 2009, at approximately 1:30 p.m. a 1997 Saturn four-door with five occupants from Corning, Calif., was westbound on I-84 at exit 85. The Saturn's driver, Jose Aguilar-Gomez, 27, appeared to be taking the freeway off ramp when he apparently changed his mind and merged back to the left across two lanes into the left westbound lane forcing a witness toward the center median and concrete barrier.
The witness honked their horn to warn Aguilar-Gomez, who over-corrected and lost control. The Saturn struck the center median and momentarily came to a stop broadside in the left westbound lane where it was struck in the driver's side by a 2005 Toyota Sequoia towing a boat.
Aguilar-Gomez and his left rear passenger, Daniel Aguilar-Mendez, 27, were transported to Mid-Columbia Medical Center for treatment. Aguilar-Mendez was taken by LifeFlight to an unknown Portland-area hospital for further treatment of non-life threatening serious injuries. Aguilar-Gomez was treated and released. The other three occupants did not require hospital treatment.
The Toyota's driver, Martha Halloran, 50, Rainier, Ore., was transported to Mid-Columbia Medical Center where she was also treated and released for minor injuries.
All involved vehicle occupants were using safety restraints.
Senior trooper Holloran cited Aguilar-Gomez for no valid operator's license and unsafe lane change.
OSP troopers from The Dalles Area Command were assisted at the scene by ODOT and Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue.