Oregon family uses tragedy to encourage safety when going into the water

BORING, Ore. (KOIN) — Three years ago at Barton Park along the Clackamas River, Meagan O’Meara Clark drowned while rafting with friends.

The 26-year-old wasn’t wearing a life jacket. O’Meara’s father said she was a strong swimmer, but the current was too strong.

Her father, Rob, was the one who found her body, 3 days after she was reported missing by her friends.

“Just before you get out of Carver Park, the water comes in like a whirlpool there and it acts like a washing machine,” he said. “And it sucked her down.”

To honor her life and help prevent similar tragedies happening to more people, O’Meara’s family started Meg’s Moments for Life Jackets.

Every year since her death, Meg’s Moments for Life Jackets gives away free life jackets, which are purchased with donations from the community and the Clackamas Emergency Services Foundation.

On July 2, 2016, they gave away life jackets at Barton Park’s “Big Float” event.

This event comes just days after another tragic drowning, of 18-year-old Brandt Hatch of Newberg. He was also not wearing a life jacket.

“If that young man wore a life jacket, I know it would have saved his life,” said Brinda Doyle, O’Meara’s mother.

Doyle hopes what they do will prevent another death and raise awareness for water safety. O’Meara’s father says he hopes every life vest they give away is another life that’s been saved.

“They don’t realize how turbulent is it underneath there,” Doyle said.

This year, the family was able to give away 500 life vets thanks to a generous donation of $2000 from Clackamas Fire and Rescue and help from Fisherman’s Marine Supply, Cabela’s, the Ball Family and LaPorte Insurance.

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