The kayaker missing for nearly five days and presumed drowned in the Deschutes River was described by a friend as a strong and experienced athlete.
Authorities continued their search Wednesday for the kayaker, who was identified by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office as Alex Vincent Kollar, 28, of Bend.
Search and rescue efforts began Friday evening near Lava Island Falls. Kollar was last seen by his party just upstream from Meadow Camp in Class IV and V whitewater conditions, according to Deschutes County Search & Rescue. Class IV is considered advanced whitewater for boaters, and Class V is expert.
Kollar, an experienced kayaker, may have become injured or encountered a hazard and possibly become trapped underwater, according to his friend, Jonny Sischo.
“He’s still in there,” Sischo said. “There’s not a lot known about what happened. Obviously, something went wrong. Alex was a very strong individual and very talented, so it just doesn’t make a lot of sense right now.”
Around 7:52 p.m. Friday, 911 dispatch received a report of a missing kayaker in rapids upstream from Meadow Camp. Sheriff’s deputies and the Search and Rescue unit responded with nearly a dozen volunteers.
The next day, Kollar’s belongings, including his kayak and paddle, were located.
In addition to drones, the multiday search has included shore searches, swift-water and dive-rescue teams and underwater pole cameras.
By Wednesday, volunteers were still out with drones at the site of the disappearance, according to Search and Rescue coordinator Sgt. Nathan Garibay.
“We’re still out there, checking for clues and monitoring the river, looking for opportunities for additional in-water searches,” Garibay said. “We’re staying in close contact with the family. It’s just a very tragic situation, and we’re trying to do our very best to help the family get some resolution.”
Kollar was an athlete ambassador for Bend-based cannabis company Oregrown and was a busy photographer and videographer. A film he shot about skiing during the 2018-19 season with his friends is available for free on YouTube. Another clip from YouTube, shot using a drone, shows Lava Island Falls from the air.
Kollar’s outdoor interests included split boarding, mountain biking, paragliding, kayaking, photography and videography, according to a profile on Oregrown’s website.
Kollar’s mother has asked media outlets to hold off on running profiles of her son, according to Sischo.
“Alex is still missing,” Sischo said. “She just would like a little more closure.”