Wednesday, August 15, 2001
INDEPENDENCE -- The body of drowning victim Jerry Leroy DeRochier was recovered Aug. 11 by the Polk County Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol. The body was found floating in the Willamette River about a half mile downriver from the initial boat accident that claimed his life Aug. 8.
DeRochier was presumed drowned after the boat he was fishing in capsized near the end of Wells Landing Road on the Willamette River on his 42nd birthday. DeRochier and his friend and co-worker, Mitchell W. Miller, 44, also of Independence, had planned a day of fishing.
They put their 13-foot flat-bottomed boat into the river about 9 a.m. at Buena Vista. The boat apparently hit a log about 15 feet from the Marion County shore, overturned and sank.
Both men jumped from the boat and attempted to swim to shore, said Laureen A. Paulsen of the Polk County Sheriff's Office. DeRochier slipped beneath the water and was not seen again. Miller was able to grab a life jacket and make it to shore. He then had to walk about two miles down river before finding a phone at the Sidney access.
Members of the Polk County Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol and Criminal Investigators, Polk County Fire District No. 1 Water Rescue unit, Marion County Sheriff's Office deputies and Jefferson Fire responded to the call. Divers searched the area of the accident and down the river throughout the weekend.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office is continuing to investigate the incident.
DeRochier, a Central High School graduate, moved to Independence in his early childhood years.
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