OXBOW WATER SAFETY

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GRESHAM, OR (KPTV) - Two separate drownings at Oxbow Park in the last two weeks has Gresham Fire and Rescue issuing a reminder to wear life jackets.

On Monday, a 15-year-old boy drowned along the Sandy River at the park.

An 8-year-old boy drowned two weeks before that when the child was swimming with a large group of people.

Cpt. Travis Soles said it may be hot and sunny and the water may be inviting.

But he said don't let that give you false confidence.

"It looks safer than it is," Soles said.

Soles said he's surprised there's been two drownings so late in the summer because the water is a bit warmer.

But he said there are other factors that contribute to life-threatening situations in the water.

"Unfortunately it's been a very busy summer," Soles said. "What happens is people will go out to wade around, they don't anticipate that there are shelves and it'll drop off quite quickly and in many cases people just step off of a shelf and get into water that they're uncomfortable being in and that gets them in trouble."

At Oxbow Park there aren't any lifeguards.

But there are free life jackets available right by the beach.

Soles can't stress enough the importance of wearing one.

"Yes they might be comfortable in the water, but so many times things can just catch you off guard," Soles said. "It gives you a couple extra moments that you might not have had to be able to get control of your situation again."

Many of the kids out Tuesday at Oxbow Park were wearing life jackets and had heard about the recent drownings, like Avery Nylund.

"I make sure I know I'm not too deep and I'm always wearing my life jacket," Nylund said. "Makes me feel like a little bit more cautious like I make sure I know where my 3-year-old brother is at all times."

Soles said not only wearing a life jacket, but letting people know where you'll be in the river is key as well as swimming with others.

There are some beaches including Glenn Otto Park in Troutdale where there are AMR lifeguards.

But Soles said the problem is some decide to avoid those areas where there are safety resources available.

But hopes educating the public can help avoid tragic situations like the recent drownings at Oxbow Park.

"Within 30 seconds to a minute somebody can be in a very bad situation and again that's why that life vest is so important," Soles said.

Others at the beach Tuesday, like Kaiya Hatcher, said it's always hard to hear about situations like the drownings of two young boys.

"I do think it's really really sad, and just a wake up call for everyone to be really cautious," Hatcher said.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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