Boy Drowns in Umatilla River
UMATILLA, Ore. - A swimming accident claims the life of a teenage boy.
Monday a group of boys decided to go swimming in a popular fishing hole on the Umatilla River. People who know the place call it Chinaman's Hole. It wasn't the first time they'd been there, but for Thomas Bieren, the trip turned fatal.
Both swimmers and fisherman know the spot well, the problem is, spring run off has been high and Umatilla County Sheriffs warn the excess water conceals the area's danger.
"It may look perfectly fine, but unless you go in and explore those waters you don't know if there's big boulders down there or what the conditions are," said Umatilla County Undersheriff Terry Rowan.
When 14-year-old Bieren jumped into the water, officers said strong currents dragged him 300 yards down stream.
When his friends found him he wasn't breathing. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital but by that time it was too late.
Bieren attended Clara Brownell Middle School. Umatilla School District officials said both students and staff are struggling with the news.
"Umatilla has had its share of deaths we've dealt with over the last couple years each one gets tougher," said Umatilla School District Superintendent Brian Say.
Bieren's death has even made police officers stop and think about their own children.
"It brings the thought of them to my mind. I want to run home to my children and educate them on something like this," said Rowan.