Watercraft crash witness: 'It just reminds me how dangerous it can be'

WEST LINN, Ore. - Dennis Elleson said he's played the crash over and over again in his mind.

"All of the sudden I heard a huge crash," he said. "A real distinct sound."

Elleson saw a crash between two friends on personal watercrafts Friday night as he stood on a dock near the Cedaroak boat ramp on the Willamette River.

Eryk Simmons, 39, of Portland, died after the crash. He was riding with his seven-year-old son. The boy was not hurt. Friday was his birthday.

Elleson said the father and son slowed down as they approached the no-wake zone near the dock.

Somehow the other man, 38-year-old Michael Bailey of Tigard, didn't stop in time.

"I helped the little boy in my boat to make sure he (was) OK and had him sit down and I helped the gentleman in the water who was unconscious beside the boat while the other guy got in my boat," Elleson said.

All three were wearing life jackets, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.

Although Elleson said he's seen a lot of close calls, he said he's never experienced anything like this.

"It just reminds me how dangerous it can be."

Clackamas County Sheriff's Office detectives are still investigating the crash. The name of the boy has not been released.

Elleson says the experience makes him want to hold his own family close.

"My heart goes out to the family," he said. "I'm so sorry."