Swimmer drowns at High Rocks Park in Gladstone
A 22-year-old man died Thursday afternoon after being pulled out of the Clackamas River at High Rocks Park in Gladstone, family members said.
Casey Carret was swimming when he disappeared beneath the surface at about 1:30 p.m., officials in Clackamas County said. His friends alerted lifeguards posted at the park.
While the park is a popular spot for jumping from the rocks, lifeguards told KOIN 6 News they observed the man only swimming and not jumping.
"He did a surface dive, and when he didn't resurface after 15 seconds, they went in after him," said Randy Lauer with American Medical Response.
Lauer said a lifeguard found Carret about 30 feet beneath the surface, which is "twice as deep as a rescue swimmer normally can get."
Carret spent about 12 minutes underwater. Rescuers performed CPR as soon as they pulled him out. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition.
He would've turned 23 next week. He was from Louisiana.
AMR officials said Carret was not wearing a lifejacket.
River experts said he may have gotten trapped in roots or debris — or he may have hit a rock.
Adam Peterson with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office said the incident at High Rocks was the first near-drowning deputies have seen in some time.
But that doesn't mean first responders haven't been busy. Peterson said deputies responded to about one water rescue a day involving people who were stranded or mildly hurt.
The best way to avoid a tragedy on the water, Peterson said, is to wear a lifejacket, stay sober and always be aware of your surroundings because danger lurks in even the most calm-looking rivers.
"This is a river; it is not a swimming pool," Peterson said.
And rivers can be deceptive.
"You'll see kids out here playing in the water," Peterson said. "They take one step too far and it goes from 6 inches deep to 3 to 4 feet deep and you're in the current."
AMR lifeguards have been stationed at High Rocks Park every summer for the past decade due to the frequency of water-related accidents. There are also lifejackets available at the park for the public to use.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.