A Facebook page built in memory of 18-year-old Walter Dines, who drowned Tuesday afternoon in the Clackamas River, has already drawn more than 240 members.
Donations toward his funeral expenses are being collected at branches of the Wells Fargo Bank; services are to be held in his hometown in Maryland.
News reports indicate Dines, a straight-A student and star athlete who graduated from Glen Burnie High School in Maryland two weeks ago and was headed to college, was dragged under water by a fast-moving river current as he tried to swim across the Clackamas with two friends.
Rescue officials said Wednesday the water was 48 degrees. Dines drowned within sight of rescue workers who had been stationed at the spot to guard against accidents.
"AMR and especially members of AMR's River Rescue Team are saddened by the tragic drowning incident today at High Rocks Park on the Clackamas River," said Lucie Drum of Multnomah County Emergency Services, in a statement. "Despite the best efforts of three AMR River Rescue Technicians, the treacherous water conditions of the river swept the victim downstream, below the surface, and out of reach of our diving capabilities."
Drum said the rescue workers saw that Dines was in trouble almost immediately, but that he was pulled too deep into the water for the divers to recover him in time; she said the lifeguards made more than 100 dives trying to find him.
Dines body was found later Tuesday night in 24 feet of water.
"We grieve along with the family and friends of the victim in this time of loss," Drum said.
USA Swimming, the national governing body for competitive swimming, reported in its 2010 annual diversity study that the African American community continues to lead all others in the numbers of people who cannot swim or cannot swim well.
The organization's 2010 research, released May 26, followed up on a massive survey conducted on 2008 measuring urban households' access to swimming facilities, their likelihood to seek out swimming lessons, and parents' attitudes about swimming as a sport.
The organization leads a national effort to target urban youth for free swimming programs as an important tool to reduce racial disparities in deaths from drowning.
"Results from both studies show that swimming ability levels are low while drowning rates remain high for minority populations," says Dr. Carol Irwin of the University of Memphis.