Agencies working to recover missing paddleboarder near Collins Beach

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 8:21 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – Multiple agencies responded to Collins Beach on Monday after a person last seen paddleboarding disappeared in the Columbia River.

Speaking to FOX 12, the U.S. Coast Guard said the paddleboarder was a 42-year-old who was seen struggling before going underwater and not coming back up.

Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office River Patrol responded just before 5:30 p.m. Monday and began the search with assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, Scappoose Fire, Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue and Sauvie Island Fire District.

In addition to the agencies combing the Columbia River by boat, the Coast Guard had a helicopter flying up and down the area.

A group of women who were out on the beach Monday evening spoke with FOX 12 saying they heard someone shout for help before the Coast Guard arrived. Another couple said they stayed out to watch the rescue, hoping for the best.

Steve Tenhonen and Judy Wiebe were on Collins Beach when the search began.

“First we heard the chopper,” said Tenhonen. “Which was a trip. We weren’t sure what was going on. Pretty soon we had four rescue boats here from the Coast Guard. The chopper hovered above the Coast Guard boat, and we heard [them] yelling down to the coast guard ‘did you see a kayaker in distress?’

Both say they didn’t see anyone paddle boarding earlier.

“Nope, never saw anyone in the water at all,” said Wiebe.

“That’s what baffles me,” said Tenhonen.

The agencies searched a wide area for hours according to the couple. Both watched and waited, hoping for some good news before the sun went down.

“Up and down this river and on the other side now,” said Wiebe. “For the last half hour, they’ve been looking on the Washington side. They did fly on this side, the Oregon side, also.”

Tenhonen says he knows firsthand how dangerous the waterways can get.

“They’ve even flown above the forest,” said Tenhonen. “I had an incident a while back where I fell into the Columbia River. I was down and actually floated under the Bridge of the Gods. I got in the current and got cold and everything. I managed to get free, but once I got to shore, I had to fight through sticker bushes. It makes sense they would be searching the forest area over there in case the person was disoriented and made it back to the shore and they are trying to find them. But the waterways can get so dangerous so quickly.”

The search was suspended around 8 p.m. and is expected to resume tomorrow. The incident is now being treated as a recovery.

This is a developing story and will be updated.