Monmouth teen drowns in John Day River

Was swept under the water on Sunday, body recovered Monday morning

Wheeler County authorities are searching for a 16-year-old Monmouth resident who possibly drowned in the John Day River Sunday afternoon.

At about noon, deputies from the Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office were called to the river about eight miles west of Spray after a report that a 16-year-old Monmouth boy had disappeared beneath the surface of the river while swimming with friends.

The identity of the victim has not yet been released by authorities.

WCSO deputies, Wheeler County Search and Rescue, the Oregon State Police and members of the Spray Fire/Ambulance Departments searched extensively without success. Approximately two hours after the search began, members of the Grant County Fast Water Rescue team responded to help and the search continued.

The victim was not found, but the scene was secured and recovery efforts resumed Monday morning. At about 9:50 a.m., the body of Cody Lane Watson was recovered from the river near milepost 82 on Highway 19/207.

Authorities warn that the John Day River continues to be deceptively dangerous with sudden changes in both the current and the underwater features of the riverbed. Swimmers should use extreme caution when swimming in any natural waterway. Life jackets should always be worn.