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Frantic search is on for 6-year-old Oregon girl swept into river

January 24, 2012 | 11:22 am

Searching for Vinesa Snegur at the Clakamas River.
Searchers were combing the banks of the swollen Clackamas River in Oregon on Tuesday, hoping to find a 6-year-old girl who fell into the rushing waters during a snowy hike with her parents.

But pellets of freezing rain sent the river's waters ever-higher, and searchers were hampered by icy banks and fallen tree limbs racing down the river near Estacada, where the search is centered.

Vinesa Snegur was playing Sunday in the snow along the river with her parents, Igor and Marina Snegur, when she fell into the water and was rushed downstream, as her father raced along the bank in a futile attempt to keep up.

Since then, about 50 paid and volunteer searchers have searched the river and fanned out into the adjacent woods in the location deep within Mt. Hood National Forest, about 30 miles from the nearest town.

"It's a never-quit attitude," Clackamas County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. James Rhodes told the Los Angeles Times. "The question I keep getting is, 'When does it become a recovery?' That’s not something you're going to hear us say. It is a search for Vinesa. We're going to provide her every opportunity and deploy every appropriate resource we can as safely as we can to return Vinesa to her family."

Searchers were hampered Tuesday not only by the continued rain, but by low-hanging clouds that made it impossible to fly a National Guard helicopter equipped with heat-seeking infrared equipment.

The helicopter flew for several hours Monday without any luck. Search dogs are also making their way through the forest.

"Last night we scaled back for safety reasons -- we can't be in or near the water after dark," Rhodes said. "But at daybreak today we were back at it again at full force."

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Photo: A member of the Multnomah County Sheriff Search and Rescue team searches along the Clackamas River for 6-year-old Vinesa Snegur, who on Sunday fell into the stream and was swept on downriver. Credit: Rick Bowmer / Associated Press

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