From 25 years ago: Animal Damage Control Officer Alan Armistead monitors the relocation of a troublesome female bear after several complaints were registered by campers and guests at Lake Creek Youth Camp.

50 years ago

Father, son perish in river drowning

Two persons died by drowning Saturday just west of Monument in the only Fourth of July mishap in Grant County.

The victims were John Leslie Vanderford, 38, and his 14-year-old son, Robert Jack Vanderford.

Oregon State Police, who investigated, said the deaths occurred between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m. Saturday while the two were wading in the North Fork of the John Day.

The family had been haying and had gone down to the river to cool off. Both victims could swim but not very well, State Police said.

According to the police reports, the son got in trouble first, calling for help. The father went to his aid but lost the youth and perished himself when he began swimming upstream rather than ashore, police said.

State Police describe the section of the river where the tragedy as a hole of uncertain depth having a lot of ripples and strange currents.

The Vanderfords recently bought property in the area from Leo Flower and lived there on weekends in a trailer home. Their residence was in Fossil and Vanderford worked in Kinzua as a truck driver. Other members of the Vanderford family watched the tragedy from the riverbank. Attempts to throw sticks to them were unavailing, according to police.

The boy’s body was recovered later Saturday afternoon in waist deep water a little down stream, but the father’s body was not recovered until Sunday afternoon.

The search was given up at dark Saturday and Sheriff Tom Negus asked the assistance of Baker County scuba divers the next day.

The divers, who were flown in, found Mr. Vanderford’s body at 2:55 p.m. after it was spotted by local swimmers in a deep pocket above the Flower’s dam, Negus reported Monday.

25 years ago

Bear facts

What do rotten fish, picnic coolers, ice chests and garbage cans all have in common? They are all potential bear bait. And for a 3-year-old female black bear, the temptation was just too great.

She found herself caught, unharmed, in the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s live bear trap recently because she just couldn’t say no to picnic coolers and such.

According to Alan Armistead, animal damage control officer for Eastern Oregon, several complaints had come in since the first week of June regarding a bear in the Logan Valley area that was visiting picnic sites and turning over garbage cans.

“She was live trapped after allegedly (even bears have rights, and unless actually caught with their paws in the garbage can, the term is allegedly) disrupting several campsites in the Logan Valley area,” said Armistead. “We judged her at about 3 years old, in good health, weighing about 150-160 pounds, and probably out of hibernation since about March. We decided to relocate her to a more suitable environment, with fewer ice chests per acre.”

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