Vale youth drowns in Payette River

Multiple police and emergency services agencies, including the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office, responded to a drowning incident Sunday afternoon near New Plymouth.

NEW PLYMOUTH – A 3-year-old Vale boy drowned in the Payette River Sunday afternoon, the Payette County Sheriff’s Office said.

Lt. Andy Creech of the Payette County Sheriff’s Office said Jax Hale was playing in the water with his family near the bank of the river at about 3:50 p.m. near New Plymouth when the current carried the youth into the river. 

Creech said the boy was not wearing a life jacket and the coroner declared the death to be from drowning.

“It is by all appearances a very tragic accident,” said Creech. “My understanding he was out there with his father and some siblings playing in the water on the river and he was well-attended to.”

The victim was the son of Michael Hale, a senior deputy with the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office, and Jessica Hale. The victim is survived by an older brother and two older sisters, according to a statement by Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe released early Monday morning.

Creech said a host of police and emergency services agencies responded to the incident.

Creech said the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office deployed its boat in the search and using sonar found the boy at about 8 p.m.

In the statement Wolfe, said an account will be set up at a local bank today to help with the associated expenses for the Hale family.

“The Hale family has asked for privacy while they grieve for their loss. We ask that you keep the Hale family in your thoughts and prayers,” Wolfe said in the statement.


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