It was supposed to be a pleasant lakeside picnic for a 42-year-old mother, her 25-year-old daughter, teenage son and 3-year-old grandson.
But for reasons that are still unclear it turned into a tragedy. All four family members were found drowned at Henry Hagg Lake, a popular reservoir 25 miles west of Portland.
Divers on Tuesday recovered three of the bodies near a picnic area — the day after lake goers found the 3-year-old boy face-down in the water and unconscious, near the same spot. They and emergency officials performed CPR, but the boy died at the scene.
No one saw what happened on Monday. Law enforcement officials said they found no sign of foul play.
"We're just considering this a tragic accident," said Sgt. Bob Ray of the Washington County sheriff's office.
Deputies identified the three bodies found Tuesday as those of Jova Ixtacua-Castano, 42, her daughter Gabriela Garcia-Ixtacua, 25, and son Michael Garcia-Ixtacua, 13.
The 3-year-old boy was identified as Jeremy Scholl, the son of Gabriela Garcia-Ixtacua. The family lived in nearby Hillsboro.
Authorities said the side of Henry Hagg Lake where the four family members were found is heavily used by swimmers and has been the site of numerous other drownings and near drownings.
The area is dangerous because of a steep underwater drop-off formed by the channel of a former river bed that runs into the reservoir, and due to a muddy, slippery bottom.
The drop-off is especially treacherous toward the end of summer, when the water level gets low, said the fire chief of nearby Gaston, Roger Mesenbrink, who has responded to multiple drownings at that spot.
"The channel becomes deceiving because it looks like it's not deep, and it isn't when you first walk in. But then it abruptly drops off, and you go from 2 feet to 10 feet of water in a second," Mesenbrink said. "If you slip off that edge, you'll take a gulp of water and it's hard to make it back unless you're a strong swimmer."
In 2012, eight children nearly drowned after wading into the lake and stepping from that underwater drop-off. They were saved by six people at a family reunion who heard the children yelling and formed a human chain to pull them to shore.
In 2008, a 27-year-old Portland man drowned at the same spot while trying to swim across the channel.
Because of its size of nearly 2 square miles, the lake has no lifeguards, but the sheriff's office uses a vessel on weekends for patrols.