Canby first responders on Saturday rescued two adults and two minors from the Molalla River — averting a possible tragedy and prompting a round of caution from public safety officials.
Canby Fire Division Chief Matt English told the Current the four were attempting to float the river Saturday when one of their floatation devices was ripped open due to “waterway hazards.”
The group lost cellphones and other personal belongings but their lives were spared thanks to the quick work of Canby Fire and police officers, who rescued them at the Highway 99E bridge on the west side of the city.
English begged residents and visitors to avoid the potentially treacherous rivers encircling Canby if they are unable to swim and unfamiliar with the area.
“We are highly concerned for individuals in the water now and in the future that do not know how to swim, are at all impaired, or are vulnerable with current and other potential hazards in the waterway,” he wrote on the district’s Facebook page.
English encouraged parents or guardians to keep a close eye on children or any other vulnerable individuals near the water at all times, and make use of the free floatation device kiosks available at Community Park — which were established in the wake of the tragic drowning of an 11-year-old Newberg boy in August 2016.
Canby has not experienced any drownings in 2022 — yet — but officials worry that could change.
“After what we saw today, we could have had three or four of them,” English lamented Saturday.
While the Canby area has not experienced a drowning death this summer, a 50-year-old Woodburn man died on the river earlier this month after being swept away by a fast-moving current at Wagon Wheel Park in Molalla.
Canby Fire reminds to always wear a floatation device near the water if you are not a swimmer, and use the kiosk at the park if you do not have your own.
Regardless of your swimming ability, respect that the river at this time of year is colder, faster and deeper than you may think. Even amid the current heat wave, a swimmer could experience shock, limiting their ability to swim or move and increasing the risk of drowning.
Use the buddy system on the river and be aware of your location and proximity to the park in case you find yourself or a loved one in need of rescue. Always keep your loved ones and family within sight on the river, and also be mindful of others who appear like they might need assistance.
Finally, officials encourage residents to refrain from consuming anything that may impair your judgment or ability to assist anyone in the case of an emergency.
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