presumed drowned after accident on Wind River
Tuesday, April 29,
2003 By JOHN BRANTON, Columbian staff writer
STEVENSON - A Portland woman was missing and
presumed drowned after being thrown from a raft Sunday afternoon during
a whitewater trip down the Wind River in Skamania County.
Lauren Orton, 32, was one of four people in the
raft when it struck a rock and tossed her and another woman out, said
Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown.
The other woman swam to shore, but Orton was
carried over a 6-foot waterfall near the High Bridge, about two miles
north of Carson, east of Stevenson.
Orton's life vest and helmet floated to the
surface nearby, but there was no sign of her.
The life jacket may not have been zipped up
properly, or may have been too large for her, Brown said, adding: "It's
also possible the force of the water took them off. It's moving very
About a dozen volunteers from the Skamania County
Dive Team and Wind River Search and Rescue, called to the scene about 3
p.m. Sunday, searched Sunday and Monday, hiking into the area carrying
As of Monday evening, Orton's body had not been
recovered, a dispatcher said.
Brown said Orton was one of three clients taking a
ride down the popular whitewater destination river with guide Dave
Slover of Mosier, Ore., west of The Dalles. He said they put the raft
into the river at Stabler, about eight miles north of Carson, and made
it five or six miles before the accident.
Orton was thrown from the raft about 1:30 p.m. The
others searched for her before continuing downriver to find a phone and
notify rescuers. Slover and a third client weren't believed thrown out.
On Monday, Brown said he suspects that Orton's
body was caught underwater just below the waterfall where she was last
"That water is so turbulent that we cannot get the
divers in to where we need them to be," Brown said.
He said searchers looked downriver about two
miles, aided by a TV news helicopter, and found nothing.
Officials on Monday were planning to contact the
Thurston County and Pierce County sheriff's offices, which have
sophisticated rope systems that can suspend a small rubber raft over the
A person in the raft then would use long probes to
locate and dislodge the body underwater.
"I'm being told it takes about five hours just to
set up the rope system," Brown said.