Yakama Nation members and tribal fisheries officials are mourning the death of a research technician who died after a boat capsized on the Columbia River last week.
Greg George, 56, died after being flown to a Portland hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission announced Wednesday.
George and three other crew members were returning Friday from a sea lion count when the commission research vessel, a 26-foot twin-engine boat with a self-bailing deck, was hit by a large wave and capsized near Multnomah Falls, the commission said in a news release.
George was part of a well-known fishing family and had decades of experience as a fisherman and research technician, the news release said.
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Davis Washines, chairman of the Yakama Nation’s General Council and a former chief of enforcement for the fish commission, met Monday with agency staff.
Washines said in the news release that George spent the past 20 years helping to restore and protect salmon, considered sacred to tribal members.
“He loved the river and saw the importance of his job protecting salmon. We can now say that he truly dedicated his life to this effort,” Washines said.
The other three crew members were treated at area hospitals for hypothermia and later released, the news release said. They were identified as Bobby Begay and Maria Jim, both Yakama Nation tribal members, and Tyler Simmons, a Umatilla tribal member.
The commission coordinates fishery management policies for the four Columbia River treaty tribes: the Umatilla, Yakama, Warm Springs and Nez Perce.
Commission chairman Leland Bill expressed gratitude for rescuers’ efforts to save the crew, as well as support expressed by the community and state and federal agencies.
“The Columbia River offers many gifts, but its power makes it dangerous, even for the most experienced,” Bill said.