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Redmond man dives for answers — and families’ closure

Jared Leisek has now found seven bodies in the last 13 months

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The body and vehicle of a missing Portland man were found in the Columbia River under the I-205 bridge Wednesday evening. Redmond YouTube diver Jared Leisek played a key role in the discovery.

Leisek started his Adventures with Purpose YouTube channel back in 2018 with a simple goal in mind – clean up the underwater environment.

He used to focus on finding missing items like phones and sunglasses. Then he graduated to looking for stolen property, such as guns and ATMs. Leisek even once came across a sunken boat in Lake Billy Chinook.

In February of 2019, Leisek and his team accidentally discovered a car underwater in Hawk Cove, Texas, appearing to solve a 30-year missing person case in the process.

That's when everything changed.

"If we could lift a car, we could lift a car with somebody inside,” Leisek told NewsChannel 21 Thursday. “That's really how the cold cases and helping families find their lost loved ones was really born."

Leisek has now found more than 150 cars and seven bodies in a 13-month span. And his YouTube channel now has nearly 1 million subscribers.

His latest discovery came Wednesday evening, when he located the vehicle and body of Antonio Amaro-Lopez, a 57-year-old Portland man who had been missing since Sunday.

"We did two passes (under the Glenn Jackson Bridge), found the car just on the other side,” Leisek said during a livestream broadcast to his YouTube channel Wednesday.

Amaro-Lopez texted his family he was leaving work during Sunday's winter storm, but never made it home.

Witnesses in the area reported seeing an SUV hit a snow bank and drive off the bridge and into the Columbia River, between Oregon and Washington.

Multnomah County sheriff's deputies had been using sonar to find Amaro-Lopez and his vehicle for two days, but were not successful.

Leisek told NewsChannel 21 it took him 30 minutes.

One of the viewers on his livestream asked, "How did law enforcement miss this?"

Leisek said, "Reading sonar kind of is an art. If you don't do it every day, you can absolutely miss things."

Leisek said he was in direct communication with Amaro-Lopez’s family for much of the day.

He said they were in tears, of course, and you can even hear Leisek himself with a quiver in his voice at one point during his livestream.

"It's always emotional being out here with helping these families,” he said. “So bear with me."

Leisek said he usually has to take a few days off to recover from these types of missions. It's a small price to pay to help families find answers.

Accidents and Crashes / Central Oregon / News
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Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.

Comments

8 Comments

  1. This is the second loss of a vehicle over the sidewalls on this bridge. Previously, one was struck by another car and spun out and over the sidewall. There may have been more not heard of but is the wall height adequate?

    1. There have been a lot of crashes on the G.J bridge over the years,as well as accidents on all of the other bridges in Portland, and very few cars or trucks go over the railing.
      I’d say it is a rarity and just bad luck…

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