UPDATED: Sheriff's Office helps respond to Meldrum Bar Park drowning


News Release from: Clackamas Co. Sheriff's Office
Posted: Nov. 15, 2012

Media and Interested Parties


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On Thursday, November 15 at 11:30 a.m., Rescue Divers from the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office -- assisted by the Gladstone FD, the Lake Oswego FD, the CCSO Search and Rescue and the CCSO Marine Unit -- were able to locate the body of the victim in last night's drowning incident at Meldrum Bar Park.

The victim is identified as Thomas Ermini, age 53, of Milwaukie, Oregon. His family has been notified and the Clackamas Medical Examiner will be determining the cause of death.

The female passenger rescued last night is identified as Sandra Gracey, age 46, of Milwaukie.

Mr. Ermini was found underwater about 50-100 feet from the last point he was seen in the water.

The three fisherman who provided critical assistance last night are identified as: Jason Vandercook, age 34, Jason Challenger, age 36, and Jason Jennings, age 38, all residents of West Linn.

Efforts continue to locate and retrieve the victim's truck with the assistance of an underwater ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) operated by a Multnomah County Sheriff's Office deputy.

At least one of the missing dogs has been found and reunited with family members. The status of the second dog is unknown.

The Gladstone Police Department are investigating the incident as an accidental death. Please reference Gladstone PD case #12-1432. All further media inquiries into the incident should be directed to the Gladstone PD PIO.

UPDATE: Thursday, Nov. 15, 9 a.m.

Search efforts have transitioned to a focus on locating and recovering a missing male and the truck involved.

Boats and divers the Clackamas Water Rescue Consortium are on-scene -- along with Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, Lake Oswego Fire Boat 212 and LOFD Dive Rescue 214.

Updates will continue as available.


At approximately 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, a Gladstone Police Officer responded to the Meldrum Bar at the Meldrum Park boat ramp in Gladstone, Oregon. He was responding to the report of a vehicle stuck on the bar.

When the officer arrived, he saw a white truck on the bar and two people with two dogs walking towards it. At this point they appeared to be fine. The Gladstone Officer watched as the truck drove back towards the ramp. The river was covering a portion of the bar. When they tried to drive across the water, it was apparent to the officer the truck was being swept away by the current.

The officer requested assistance for the situation and flagged down a fishing boat that was passing by. The fisherman turned around and immediately helped. They were able to rescue a female who was now treading water in the river. They did not see anyone else in the water and took her directly to shore.

Officers boarded the boat and they went back with the fishermen to search for the second person. They were not able to locate the male. Other resources arrived at the scene to include divers from the Gladstone Fire Department.

The divers entered the water and searched for the male, but were unable to locate him.

Boats from the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, Clackamas County Fire Department, Lake Oswego Fire Department and Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue responded to the area to assist with the search. Deputies from the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and the Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue also responded to the location.

The extensive search for the male was suspended after being unable to locate him for an extended period of time. Due to poor visibility in the water for the divers, the recovery attempt will resume in the morning.

The female was taken to Providence Milwaukie Hospital as a precaution, and is expected to recover fully. There were two chocolate labs with the couple. One of the dogs was seen loose on the shore but would not allow rescuers or by-standers to capture her.

This tragedy could have been much worse if it had not been for the quick action and willingness to help from the three fishermen.


News-release archive

Contact Info:
Sergeant Adam Phillips
Office of Public Information
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office

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