By Jim Moore of the Daily Courier Hat tip: Ann McGloon
SHAN CREEK — A family kayaking on the Rogue River on Saturday afternoon found the body of Sean Kruger, who drowned last Monday near Griffin Park. Officials had called off their search Wednesday night.
The family spotted Kruger's head bobbing in the water at about 1:30 p.m.
"We had left Whitehorse Park and were almost to Ferry Hole, where we were planning to get out, when we saw it," said Kim Guthrie of Grants Pass. The Ferry Hole boat ramp is across the river from Griffin Park.
Kruger, 21, of Grants Pass, was attempting to swim across the Rogue just below Panther Chutes, a bit upsteam from Griffin Park. He went under midway. A member of his family tried to save him, but he disappeared.
Kim's husband, Dan Guthrie, and his grandson, 8-year-old Aaron Pennington-Guthrie, were in a kayak together and first to see the body. Dan's daughter, Leona Pennington-Guthrie, and her 10-year-old son, Emmett Pennington-Guthrie, were in a kayak right behind them.
"She shouted to the shore to call 911 because there was a dead body," Kim Guthrie said.
Kim Guthrie and Alan Pennington-Guthrie were alone in kayaks.
"What was nice was having my son-in-law in the group," Kim Guthrie said. They noticed the body was slowly drifting downstream, so Alan Pennington-Guthrie stayed with it. The group was also able to direct motorboats away from the body.
A rescue boat arrived from downstream and the body was taken ashore, where, according to Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson, it was turned over to Hull & Hull Funeral Directors. "We had a boat on the river for the weekend," Gilbertson said, and it was able to respond to the call.
The Pennington-Guthrie family was visiting from Salem, and Kim Guthrie said the adults were initially concerned about the impact on the two boys.
"We were worried about them being traumatized, but we talked to them and they're all right," she said.
As disturbing as the incident was, Kim Guthrie said they are glad they could let Kruger's family know the body had been found.
Dan Guthrie said about 15 members of Kruger's family were camping at Griffin Park, and one person shook Alan Pennington-Guthrie's hand and thanked him.