Woman Drowns While Swimming in Clackamas River

By Donald Orr (OPB)
June 21, 2020 4:43 p.m.

A 62-year-old woman drowned in the Clackamas River Friday, Clackamas County officials report.

The Clackamas County Water Rescue Consortium responded to a 911 call reporting three women in distress on the Clackamas River, just upriver from Barton Park. The women had been part of a larger group floating the river recreationally, and had fallen behind that larger group.


A family was outside their home when they heard the women in distress, with one woman seen floating face-down in the river. One of the residents called 911 while her husband grabbed a floatation device and ran down to help. The husband reached the woman floating face-down and held her head above water as emergency workers responded.

Signs warn of dangers of the Clackamas River near high rocks.

Signs warn of dangers of the Clackamas River near high rocks.

Rob Manning/OPB file photo

Rescuers pulled the woman from the river and performed CPR for about 30 minutes, but couldn’t revive her.


The drowning victim was later identified as Leanna Rae Middleton, 62, of Portland.

According to rescuers, Middleton had a personal floatation device with her on the inner tube she was using to float down the river, but wasn’t wearing it.

The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and the Clackamas County Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating the drowning.

Saturday marked the first day of summer, leading into a week of warmer weather.  As temperatures climb toward 90 degrees in some parts of the Northwest, officials warn people each year to be careful while taking part in summer activities like swimming.

Officials with Clackamas County Fire said that people should be especially careful around cold rivers, as jumping into cold water will shock a person’s system, which generally leads to taking a deep breath. That involuntary reaction could lead to drowning.

Officials advise never swimming alone, and having a properly fitted life jacket.

Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington and Lincoln counties still remain in Phase 1 of the state’s reopening plan. No more than 25 people can get together for any event, indoors or outdoors, and have to stay at least 6 feet apart.