Friends inseparable but couldn't save teen from river

Friends inseparable but couldn't save teen from river »Play Video
Andrew Moats died Sunday while inner tubing on the Molalla River with friends.

ST. PAUL, Ore. – When Andrew Moats' inner tube got stuck on a ball of branches and rocks on the Molalla River on Sunday, his two friends didn't hesitate to help.

Kyle was the first to try and come to Andrew's aid. But he too got stuck. Travis then tried to help. He got Kyle out, but their 19-year-old friend slipped away, getting pulled underwater. It took rescuers almost an hour to find his body.

"They had a hold of Andrew, but they just couldn't get him out," Andrew's cousin, Alex Barrera, said Monday.

The friends were so inseparable they listed each other as "brothers" on their Facebook pages.

"I'm thankful to them that if he were to go, that he was with someone, (with) people who loved him and cared about him and really wanted the best for him," Alex said. "For those boys to have to live with that, I feel so much sorrow for them."

But she said she told them they did all they could and doesn't blame them for what happened.

"They both risked their lives for him, and I am thankful that it was just one of them and not all three, because what they did was really heroic," she said.

She and other family members visited the site along the river Monday where Andrew died and put a cross up and left flowers to memorialize him.

Rescuers said that stretch of river is dangerous with its vegetation and swift water that's cold.

Andrew was going to coach his nephew's football team, and he had dreams of joining the Army. He just graduated from North Marion High School two years ago.

As an only child he was close to his many cousins like Alex – all of whom live less than half an hour away.

"He's missed already, and he's loved," Alex said.

Both of Andrew's friends went to the hospital on Sunday. They're OK.

They weren't wearing life jackets and aren't required to while inner tubing. But rescuers want to encourage people to wear them.

For those wanting to help, they can donate to the family at any Key Bank in a fund under Andrew Moats' name.