Man dies trying to save his dog in Clackamas River

Man's dog pulled from water. (Photo: KPTV)

GLADSTONE, Ore. (KPTV) -- A man who a witness said was trying to save his dog struggling in the Clackamas River died after he was swept down the river instead Monday, authorities said.

Construction workers on a bridge saw it all unfold near High Rocks Park and called 911 at 2:30 p.m. One of the workers told Fox 12 the man went in the river after his dog when the animal started struggling in the water.

The man, an admittedly weak swimmer according to firefighters, began to struggle and went under the water. He was then swept down river.

A dive team responded and managed to locate the man and bring him to shore. Paramedics performed CPR and said they were able to get a pulse. He arrived at Willamette Falls Hospital with a pulse, but deputies said he died a short time later.

Investigators said his dog is OK.

"You could see him really flailing, swimming for his life, and he just sunk and sunk and sunk," said witness Aaron Knerr.

Gladstone is about 12 miles south of Portland.

High Rocks Park is a popular swimming destination when temperatures rise, but the Clackamas River, which is fed by mountain snow melt, has strong currents and rocky areas.

The surface of the Clackamas River was 64 degrees in that area Monday afternoon, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. Divers said it was nearly 10 degrees colder than that toward the bottom.