BAKER CITY — Baker County Sheriff’s officers believe a 14-year-old boy who waded into the water on the banks of Oxbow Reservoir at the eastern edge of the county stepped into a steep drop-off and drowned Monday, July 27.
In an attempt to save the boy, his adult fishing partner also fell into the deep water and drowned, a press release stated.
The bodies of 14-year-old Wyatt James Smith, and Matthew Titus Kellogg, 41, both of Hood River, were found in about 10 feet of water below Brownlee Dam, Ashley McClay, Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Oxbow Reservoir is the middle of the three reservoirs on the Snake River forming the border between Oregon and Idaho.
Brownlee Reservoir is upriver from Oxbow, and Hells Canyon Reservoir is downriver.
Oxbow Reservoir is about 75 miles east of Baker City.
The Baker County Sheriff’s Department was called about 10:53 a.m. July 27 by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Weiser, Idaho, reporting that two people had gone underwater while fishing from the Oregon side at Oxbow Reservoir below Brownlee Dam. Shaun Jason Moore, 41, Wyatt’s father, reported the incident, McClay said.
Moore told police that his son and Kellogg had been walking in the water while fishing. McClay said the boy got too far from shore and began having difficulty and when Kellogg tried to help him he also began having difficulty in the water.
Moore told police he saw his son and Kellogg go under. They were not wearing life jackets.
Moore tried to go in the water, but he was unable to reach the pair and they did not resurface, McClay said.
In addition to Oxbow resident deputy Brian Harvey, Baker County Sheriff’s marine deputies responded along with officers from Washington County, Idaho, and Adams County, Idaho, in Council. They launched two boats and a jet ski to search for Smith and Kellogg, McClay said.
The two were found in about 10 feet of water in an eddy below Brownlee Dam.
The bodies were recovered by the Baker County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue dive team.
McClay advised people to wear life jackets, even while fishing from the shores of the Snake River or its reservoirs.
The drop-off at the water’s edge can be extremely steep, she said.
“A lot of people don’t think about wearing life preserver devices along the shore, but from our viewpoint they should wear life jackets when they are near water,” she said. “Even sometimes the strongest swimmers can get in trouble depending on the current and the depth of the water.”
A teenage boy from the Portland area who was visiting Baker County over the Fourth of July weekend with family and friends, drowned in Brownlee Reservoir near Hewitt Park, 3 miles east of Richland, just off Highway 86.
Authorities believe Thierno Bah, 17, who could not swim, waded into the water, which dropped off from the shore to a depth of about 40 feet, and drowned when he was unable to get back to safety. A week-long search ended on July 10 when a kayaker found Bah’s body floating near the boat docks at Hewitt Park about 50 yards from shore.