Two drown at church camp near The Dalles - KPTV - FOX 12

Bodies of camp counselor, high school student recovered

Posted: Updated: July 10, 2012 08:03 AM
Harvest Community Church in Camas Harvest Community Church in Camas
Camp counselor Brett McLean drowned at White River Falls on Monday. Camp counselor Brett McLean drowned at White River Falls on Monday.
CAMAS, WA (KPTV) -

A camp counselor and high school student trying to take a photo at White River Falls fell into the water and drowned Monday.

Wasco sheriff's investigators said Caleb Justice, 15, and Brett McLean, 26, were on an outing for Experience The Valley Bible Camp, which is comprised of about 100 staff and high school students from several churches in the area.

Sheriff's investigators said they received a report of two people who had slipped and fallen into the pool at the base of White River Falls just after 2 p.m. Monday.

Justice and McLean were trying to take a picture behind the falls when they fell in. At least one witness tried unsuccessfully to save both of them.

Justice belonged to River Rock Church of Camas and McLean was a volunteer with another church.

"Our hearts are deeply saddened by this loss, these two precious people," said Pastor Paul Ireland of River Rock.  "We will continue to pray for and support their families through this whole ordeal."

Pastor Ireland described Caleb as compassionate and kind.

"He was a joy to be around," said Ireland. "He was a great kid."

"Brett was an amazing person," said Jamie Lawson, a close friend of McLean.  "Brett was the guy people want to be like. He was the guy people loved to be around."

Lawson told Fox 12 he met Brett during the same bible camp several years ago.

"The camp for him was one way, during the year, he tried to make a difference in the lives of students."

Recently, McLean had been working with Lawson's Production Company.  Lawson said McLean loved life and touched many.

"Brett was a guy who thought of other people first, all the time," said Lawson. "He impacted a lot of people."

The two bodies were recovered from the bottom of the falls' pool by a diver Tuesday evening.

The White River Falls Day Use area is located about four miles east of Tygh Valley along Highway 216. After a closure to allow for an investigation, deputies said the area would reopen for public access.

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