CARVER, Ore. - A man who was presumed missing after tubing in the Clackamas River is safe at home, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.
Bryton Schmidt, 21, was floating the river with a friend Sunday evening when it got dark and the two got separated. They had launched from the Barton Park boat ramp around 4 p.m. and planned to float to Carver Park.
Schmidt was last seen walking through shallow water with a partially-deflated tube. He did not have a life jacket and deputies said he was reportedly very intoxicated.
Searchers set out to find Schmidt after getting a 9-1-1 call around 8:50 p.m. Sunday. They spent a few hours looking for the man and then planned to return to the river at 8 a.m. on Monday.
Monday morning, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office reported that Schmidt was at his home in Battle Ground, Wash. A couple who was driving along Highway 224 near Carver had spotted a hitchhiker around 7 a.m. and called it in because the man appeared, cold, dirty and was wearing only shorts.
Sheriff's deputies searched the area but did not find anyone. However, about 45 minutes later Schmidt called his parents to tell them he was home in Battle Ground, Wash. He is reportedly in good condition.
We stopped by Schmidt's home to find out more about what happened. The young man's father answered the door and told us they were "having a talk with Bryton." The family declined further comment.
In light of what happened, the sheriff's office wants to remind folks that the Clackamas River has dangers and alcohol should be used in moderation.
"We want people to have fun out here," said Sgt. Robert Wurps with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. "I've taken my family out here too and it is enjoyable and fun. But we do urge people to be safe and responsible because once you do consume too much, there are some dangers out there. There are some rapids, there is some depth and then there's the cold."
Alcohol has historically been a problem along this stretch of the river and last week, Clackamas County commissioners unanimously voted to allow law enforcement officials to put teeth in a law that already bans alcohol from county parks. Park officials, deputies and anyone monitoring the parks can now search a person's cooler or bag without cause. If they find any beer or other alcohol, they can kick you out of the park or give you a citation.
There would be exceptions to the searches, like if you were at the park with a camping permit or had a permit for an event. And there is one other important point - this would only apply to park land. Once you are on the river or even past the high water mark, the search rule would not apply because it is out of the county's jurisdiction.