Drowning victim at Frenchman’s Bar identified as Portland man

Rodney Kumar, 22, went under the water about 15 feet from the shore and did not reappear.

The efforts of responding crews and citizens to search for a drowning victim at Frenchman’s Bar were unsuccessful Sunday evening, according to a report from the Vancouver Fire Department (VFD).

The efforts of responding crews and citizens to search for a drowning victim at Frenchman’s Bar were unsuccessful Sunday evening, according to a report from the Vancouver Fire Department.
File photo.

At 5:46 p.m. Sunday (July 18) evening, the VFD responded to 9612 NW Lower River Road (Frenchman’s Bar) in Vancouver for reports of a possible drowning in the Columbia River. The first VFD unit arrived within 11 minutes and immediately initiated water rescue operations with firefighters donning life jackets and using long pike poles. 

Responding crews also requested the Vancouver Technical Rescue Team as well as the Vancouver Fire Boat to assist. Other resources that responded and assisted on scene included: a Vancouver battalion chief, the Portland Fire Bureau Boat, the Multnomah County and Clark County Sheriff’s Boat, AMR and Vancouver Police Department. The Coast Guard was also notified. 

Witnesses called 9-1-1 after an adult male in his early 20’s went under the water about 15 feet from the shore and did not reappear. Friends told crews on scene that he was not a strong swimmer and he was not wearing a life jacket. 

While fire and EMS crews were responding there was a large, but unsuccessful, effort by civilian personnel to try to locate the victim. Rescue swimmers performed a coordinated grid search while the rescue boats conducted “drag” operations and searched the river using radar. After about an hour, crews on scene shifted from rescue to recovery operations. 

Crews on scene searched for the victim in the river and performed water rescue operations for over two hours. At the time of this report, the victim had not yet been found. The scene was turned over to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to continue dive operations.

On Tuesday, the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim as 22-year-old Rodney Kumar, a resident of Portland.

The VFD recommends that citizens wear a life jacket for safety. Officials also warn beach goers that local river currents can still be deceivingly strong.

Information provided by Vancouver Fire Department.

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