In July 2013, Meagan O’Meara-Clark went missing in the Clackamas River in Oregon while rafting.

KOIN 6 reported that she decided hop out of her raft and go for a swim.

O’Meara-Clark, 26 years old, wasn’t wearing a life jacket. She was never heard from again.

Posted by Saphira Groves on Sunday, July 5, 2015

Two days after her disappearance, O’Meara-Clark’s family members reported seeing “something” in the river. That “something” prompted divers to look deeper in search of the young woman. However, with no success in their search, the rescue crew called it off.

The next day, Rob O’Meara, Meagan’s father, spotted her body. He described the spot of her drowning as acting “like a whirlpool. You can’t tell from the top, but once you get in it sucks you down.”

Screenshot/KPTV

He added:

“I don’t want people to have to go through what I went through and have to find their daughter.”

The O’Meara family hated to see other families suffering from similar tragedies as theirs, so they set up a foundation to provide free life jackets for people rafting and swimming in the Clackamas River. Rob O’Meara said:

“It’s hard to even to go the river, and then hearing about these other tragedies that happen to other families. I think it’s time to do something about it, and that’s what we’re doing. We’re giving away these life jackets so this didn’t happen for no reason.”

The O’Meara family set up a Facebook page and foundation in Meagan’s honor: Meg’s Moments for Life Jackets Inc.

Posted by Saphira Groves on Sunday, July 5, 2015

The group description says:

Our mission is to provide water safety information, life jacket events etc. for the public to expand public awareness on water safety. Our family lost our precious daughter, sister, aunt, niece, and friend (Meagan O’Meara) on July 5th, 2013 due to a drowning on the Clackamas River. The outcome could have been different if Meagan would have been wearing a life jacket. Please join our mission to enhance water safety awareness so another family can be spared this outcome.

Every year since her drowning, the family hosts fundraising events so that they can provide free life jackets for rafters and avoid additional preventable tragedies.

Screenshot/KPTV

This past weekend, on July 1, the O’Meara family hosted the fourth annual life jacket drive at Barton Park. They gave out more than 600 life jackets.

One of those very life jackets saved a life this past weekend. O’Meara reported to KPTV that a hearing-impaired woman, along with her group of friends, came to the lake for a swim. A few hours after they arrived, tragedy was narrowly avoided. O’Meara said:

“[The hearing impaired woman] fell off the boat and got sucked underneath because it was losing air and the only thing that was keeping her up was the life jacket. […]

She was so, so happy to be alive. […] She said that if she wouldn’t have had that life jacket on, she wouldn’t be here.”

The power and life-saving skills of a life jacket are undeniable.

Screenshot/KPTV

O’Meara said:

“We feel that if she [Meagan] had been wearing a life jacket that day she would still be here with us.”

To donate to Meagan’s Moments For Life Jackets Inc., visit the GoFundMe page.

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