Girl Swept Away

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 10:58am

Search crews comb Oregon river for missing 6-year-old.

Rescue crews continue to search for a young Oregon girl missing since Sunday when she fell into the Clackamas River about 60 miles southeast of Portland.

6-year-old Vinesa Snegur, of Portland, slipped into the water as she was walking with her family Sunday, according to Sgt. James Rhodes with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.

Vinesa's dad frantically ran downstream and tried to stay with her as she was swept away, Rhodes said.

"It was just a second of inattention," Rhodes said. "He turned away. Then, splash, and she fell in. He ran and tried to keep up with her, but he was unable to."

The girl and her parents, Igor and Marina Snegur, are from southeast Portland and drove in Sunday to play in the snow.

They parked near Austin Hot Springs in the Mount Hood National Forest where a road is close to the stream.

After Vinesa was swept into the water, her family looked for her for about an hour, while trying to call for help on cell phones in the remote area.

They finally reached authorities from a land line at the Ripplebrook Ranger Station about 25 miles east of Estacada just after 4 p.m., Rhodes said.

Monday, divers were in the water, searchers were walking the riverbanks four miles downstream and a National Guard Helicopters was searching from the air.

"We are extensively covering the riverbanks in and out of the water," Rhodes said.

The Clackamas River was running high, fast and cold following a winter storm that brought rain and snow to the region, Rhodes said.

Riverbanks were covered with ice.

He estimated the water temperature at just above freezing.

The initial search included 35 volunteers and a military helicopter with thermal imaging equipment.

Monday, the number of volunteers had expanded to 50.

Larry Miller, who works at the store at the Ripplebrook Station, said the family was very distraught.

At the station, the father sat wet and wrapped in towels.

He joined with rescue crews to return to the scene.

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