Photo: Jeff Pricher

Woman drowns, man rescued after driving into high water near Clatskanie

Photo: Jeff Pricher
Photo: Jeff Pricher

Clatskanie, Ore. — (KGW)The multiple-day stretch of powerful weather slamming the Pacific Northwest with heavy rain and flooding claimed another life Wednesday, bringing the storm’s current death toll to two.

A passenger drowned Wednesday after a motorist went around ‘Road Closed’ signs and into high water near Clatskanie Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

The couple was identified Thursday morning as 72-year-old Penny Forrest and 82-year-old Richard A. Forrest of Clatskanie.

Richard Forrest drove around a road closure sign at Lost Creek Road and Highway 30, said Oregon State Police Lt. Bill Fugate. The Jeep went into the high water on the flooded road, where it floated, drifted, stalled and sank.

Forrest pulled himself out of the vehicle as it sank, and then he yelled for help. A neighbor saw him standing on the roof of the submerged car and flagged down a Clatskanie PUD crew, according to Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District Chief Steve Sharek.

That neighbor was David Viera. He says his wife called 911, as he rushed to find out if he could help the man, while the PUD crew jumped into the frigid water to pull him out.

“I could hear him hollering ‘I need help! Get a boat! My wife’s in the car, and it’s underwater,'” he said. “They brought the guy out of the water and somebody else grabbed him and put him in the ambulance. He just told me he is sorry, he felt bad,” Viera said, getting emotional and wiping away tears.

He says even before that couple got stuck, he saw several other drivers also ignore the road closed sign, and drive through the high water. He said the water was rising extremely fast, and he worried it was dangerous.

“When they close the road, they need to put barrier tape. Because you know how people are. They go though signs… and when you do that… I knew something like this was going to happen,” he said.

The crew members swam out to the vehicle and pulled him back to shore, Sharek said.

A water rescue crew towed the vehicle out of the water. It was submerged in about 12 feet of water, nearly 200 feet away from the road.

Penny Forrest was found dead inside the vehicle after it was recovered, Fugate said.

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