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Kayaker hit by small plane in Willamette River

A small plane, shown here, struck a kayaker as it was taking off, near Dayton, Oregon on August 5.
A small plane, shown here, struck a kayaker as it was taking off, near Dayton, Oregon on August 5.

A small plane taking off from a gravel bar hit a woman kayaking on the Willamette River on Wednesday.

It happened about 5 p.m. near Dayton. Sgt. Sam Elliott with the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office said the woman was seriously injured.

“Based on the injuries and the location of those marks on the kayak, I would say that her body was physically struck, as well as the kayak,” Elliott said.

Exactly what happened is still under investigation. The pilot returned immediately and has been cooperating with police.

Elliott said pilots often land on gravel bars in the area, and the pilot involved in Wednesday’s incident has done it dozens of times.

He also said while the incident is odd, it’s not unprecedented. Something similar happened not far away in 1994, when two people in a canoe were killed as a seaplane was taking off.

“Both the pontoons of the float hit the two adults that were in the canoe and they were both killed,” Elliott said. “And there were two children in the canoe, that were just offset to either side, and they were uninjured.”

The pilot in the 1994 case was initially charged with criminally negligent homicide, but he was later acquitted and allowed to fly again.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting