MOSIER, Ore. -- A 7-year-old boy died and his father was injured when the truck they were in slid on ice along Interstate 84 and crashed into the Columbia River Monday afternoon.
The accident occurred in the Columbia River Gorge, just before 4:30 p.m. The pickup truck was traveling westbound on I-84 near Mosier when it slid on ice, crashed through a guardrail and then plunged into the river, according to Lt. Gregg Hastings with Oregon State Police.
Investigators said John Arntson, 40, of Clackamas was driving the truck. He was able to escape and swim to shore but he could not save his son. Dive teams found young Jacob Arntson's body about 5 hours later, still inside the submerged truck.
When police first arrived on the scene, they could not find the truck because it was totally underwater. It was eventually found about 20 yards off shore in approximately 40 feet of water.
John was taken to Hood River Hospital for treatment. His injuries were not life-threatening. He is well-known in the Clackamas community, as a social studies teacher at Clackamas High School and head coach for the Cavaliers baseball team. He is married to Tracy Arntson and also has a daughter named Rylee, who is a senior at Clackamas High.
The Arntson family released a statement about the tragic death of little Jacob on Tuesday. It said members of the Clackamas community have already begun reaching out to them, which they appreciated deeply.
"By now you might have heard that our beloved son and brother, Jacob Roy Arntson, died last night in a traffic accident east of Hood River. Jake was just 7 years old, but in those 7 years he brought so much light into our world and touched so many lives as a friend and classmate. He was a wonderful child, and we miss him so much," the family said. "Our family has felt your support and your love during these difficult hours. Your caring means more to us than we can say, and we are so grateful. We know you join us in honoring Jake's memory, remembering his bright eyes and big smile."
The statement also explained that the family was making arrangements through Bateman's Funeral Home, and will be setting up a fund in memory of Jake in the days ahead.
The right, westbound lane of the freeway was blocked for several hours east of Hood River during the investigation.