Man in Sandy River identified, presumed drowned

TROUTDALE, Ore. - It was a Halloween fishing trip that a 16-year-old boy will never forget - and for all the wrong reasons.

His 55-year-old father is still missing Sunday after the two were swept into a local river Saturday afternoon. A Clackamas County Sheriff's Department spokesperson said hope is fading that the boy's father will be found alive.

Yevhen Savchenko and his son Olexander were out for a standard father-and-son trip Saturday when the two slipped into the rain-fueled Sandy River current. Both are from Southeast Portland.

From sunrise until sunset Sunday, searchers looked for the missing Portland man. Searchers and cadaver dogs will renew the search Monday morning, with the sheriff's department's ruling that the man is now presumed drowned.

The Sandy River can be deceptively tranquil at first glance. A closer look, however, shows these currents are moving fast.

Local fishers hope others will learn from what appears to be a deadly mistake.

"The water is really high,and these rocks are pretty slick," said fisherman Mike Mutto. "There's no way you'd try to cross this thing."

In kayaks, and on the river shore, searchers look for any sign of the missing father, Yevhen Savchenko swept downstream with his 16 year old son, Olexander.

Two teens witnessed Saturday's accident.

"We were crossing and we looked down and saw them trying to cross a log where i usually don't see people cross," said Seth Downes, one of those teens. "So we watched to see if they'd make it, and we see them slip underneath, and they were underneath this log gasping for air."

Downes said he saw the father and son float downstream. The boy made it to safety about 300 yards down the river.

"I'm kind of in shock," Downes said. "I come here with my dad fishing, and can't imagine what it would be like to come out and
not know where he's at."

Not far from where the missing father disappeared, three fishermen wade - and sometimes stumble - in the water in Sunday's current.

"A lot of good fishermen have been killed wading you know, they drown," said one.

Like these fishers, the missing man and his son were wearing waders. Though waders keep an angler dry, the rubberized pants also quickly can fill up and drag someone down - like an anchor.

"If you really get sucked in and don't have a belt on, everything goes right to your feet," Mutto tells KATU.

Searchers on Sunday afternoon were concentrating on a 4-mile stretch of the river, from Cedar Creek to Dodge Park. With search crews so close, those fishing acknowledge that even a peaceful day out on the river can turn tragic.

"It's too bad," one fisherman said. "You don't want to see that happen to anyone just for a fish."

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