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Local News

Search for Portland rafter on hold

04/28/2003

By KGW Staff

Search crews do not plan to return Tuesday to the Wind River, where a woman slipped from a grounded raft and is presumed drowned.

Lauren Orton, 32, from Portland, was on a guided rafting trip when her raft hit a rock, flipping the boat over about 1 p.m. on Sunday under the High Bridge. Orton was on board with three others, but Orton and another woman fell into the water.

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Crews from All Star rafting help in the search for Lauren Orton. (KGW Photo)

The other woman swam to safety, but Orton was last seen floating down the rapid, said Dave Slover, the owner of All Star Rafting.

“It’s not unheard of…to have a raft on a rock,” he said. “The boat goes up sideways on the rock, and sticks to it on the upstream side. Where the girls were in the front of the boat, there was a lot of current sweeping through the boat, and it just pulled them both right out.”

Slover said he’s rafted this stretch of the wind river a hundred times. But this trip haunts him.

“It’s the most crushing 24 hours of my life so far,” Slover said. “It’s hard to deal with.”

Slover sent two crews to help Skamania County dive team members search the bank of the Wind River for Orton.

“That particular spot where it feeds over those rocks…it’s just boiling, and it’s white, and so, if she got underneath that, it’s possible she could be pinned in there, being held by the water,” said Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown.

Searchers found Orton’s helmet and life vest, but their search on Monday for Orton yielded nothing. Brown said searchers would continue looking for Orton as long as it’s safe to do so.

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