7-year-old boy killed after car crashes into Columbia River - KPTV - FOX 12

7-year-old boy killed after car crashes into Columbia River

Posted: Updated: Jan 1, 2013 11:45 AM
Jacob Arntson Jacob Arntson
Memorial at Clackamas High School baseball field Memorial at Clackamas High School baseball field
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, OR (KPTV) -

A 7-year-old boy was killed when a truck driven by his father lost control on an icy patch of Interstate 84 and plunged into the Columbia River.

Jacob Arntson, known as Jake, was a fixture on the sidelines and in the stands of Clackamas High School, where his father is the head coach of the baseball team.

John Arntson is also the social studies teacher at the high school and varsity defensive coordinator for the football team.

"This little guy was just a special little boy. He was so much beyond seven years of age. He was precocious, he was fun loving, he had wit. He could kid you," said Jeff Erdman, the high school's athletic director.

Erdman recalled seeing the precocious little boy with his father: "He'd ride the tractor with his dad after practice on the fields. He'd come with his dad and help him do batting practice. He'd be around here in the press box in football games, drawing pictures and talking."

Oregon State Police said the truck slid off the road near milepost 69 while traveling westbound just before 4:30 p.m. Monday.

John Arnston was able to get out of the truck, but Jake was not.

State police said the truck came to rest about 40 feet below the surface and it took divers nearly five hours to locate the vehicle.

The boy's body was discovered at 9:30 p.m. Monday after the truck was found by divers about 20 yards from shore in 40 feet of water.

Crews took a tow rope down to the pickup and were eventually able to hoist it up.

John Arnston was treated for minor injuries at a Hood River hospital and released.

OSP troopers are continuing to investigate the crash. Lt. Gregg Hastings said speed does not appear to be a factor.

About 200 people, including current and former Clackamas High School athletes, held a vigil by the baseball field Tuesday afternoon.

Afterward, many left flowers, toys and books at a memorial on the field, which will stay as long as weather allows, said the high school's principal, Christine Garcia.

 "It's difficult when it's a child. It makes you think about your own children. Our hearts and prayers go out to them," said Garcia. "Obviously there's nothing we can do, but this community will come together and try to help the family out as best they can."

"He was everything that's good about life and about people and about a school, community," said Erdman. "So our hearts go out to John and Tracy and their family. He's with us forever. He'll never be forgotten, he's with us forever."

The family released a statement Tuesday:

"Dear friends, family, and all of you who have reached out to us in the Clackamas community and beyond. By now you might have heard that our beloved son and brother, Jacob Roy Arntson, died last night in a traffic accident east of Hood River. Jake was just 7 years old, but in those 7 years he brought so much light into our world and touched so many lives as a friend and classmate. He was a wonderful child, and we miss him so much.

"We will be making arrangements through Bateman's Funeral Home, and will be setting up a fund in memory of Jake in the days ahead. We'll pass along those details soon.

"Our family has felt your support and your love during these difficult hours. Your caring means more to us than we can say, and we are so grateful. We know you join us in honoring Jake's memory, remembering his bright eyes and big smile.

"Jake: we love you forever.

"The Arntson Family."

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