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Survivor of Molalla River drowning hopes someone finds lost backpack

A 19-year-old Molalla man injured Sunday, June 30, while trying to rescue his drowning friend on the Molalla River is asking for help to find his backpack that floated away on an innertube during the ordeal.

Kyle Sauvageau had a standard black backpack strapped to his tube when he left it behind to try to rescue his drowning friend, 19-year-old Andrew Jason Moats of Salem.

Moats was trapped on an underwater root ball and drowned when tubing with Sauvageau and a third friend, 18-year-old Travis Carney of Aurora. Sauvageau received lacerations to his face when he was caught in the same roots during the attempted rescue. Carney pulled him free.

The three young men had been tubing on the river, downstream from the Glen Avon Bridge on Dickey Prairie Road. The accident happened about a mile upstream of the Dickey Prairie Store outside Molalla.

After Sauvageau and Carney were taken to a hospital Sunday, Clackamas County water rescue divers worked for almost an hour to free Moats from the water.

All three young men graduated from North Marion High School, and had been close friends throughout their school years, said Stephanie Sauvageau, Kyle’s mother.

She said the two boys worked desperately under water to free their friend from the tree roots, and her son nearly drowned in the effort when he also became trapped.

“If it had not been for Travis, Kyle would have drowned too,” she said. “When the boys realized it was impossible to save Andrew, they each held on to one of his hands and stayed with him underwater as long as they could. They know they did their best to try and save him.”

Sauvageau thinks he saw someone pull his inner tube and backpack out of the river downstream from the accident, but it has not yet been turned in to police, his mother said.

His cell phone, which was inside the backpack, has a memory card with cherished photographs on it. More than anything, he would like to have the memory card returned, she said.

Anyone who has information about the backpack is asked to call Stephanie Sauvageau, 503-829-7171, or to turn it in to the Molalla Police Department, the Clackamas County Sheriff's office or a local police station.