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California Man Dies After Falling Off S. Oregon Coast Cliff Near Natural Bridges Area

Published 4/23/24 at 7:15 a.m.
By Andre' Hagestedt, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Brookings, Oregon) – A California man is dead after falling off a cliff on the south Oregon coast, near the Natural Bridges attraction in the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor. (All photos of the body recovery: Curry County Sheriffs)

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Curry County Sheriff's Office reports that Sunday, April 21, at about 2:35 p.m., 911 dispatch received information that a hiker near the Natural Bridges area (12 miles north of Brookings) had spotted the lifeless body of a person on the rocks below the cliff. The call was relayed from Brookings Police Dispatch.

Responding to the scene were an Oregon State Trooper, Curry County authorities, and eventually the county's Search and Rescue team (SAR).

“The Curry County Sheriff’s SAR team were summoned to respond,” the Sheriff's office said in a release. "Several SAR members set up a raising system and SAR members Andy Stubbs and Tim Hawkins rappelled approximately 300’ down to the victim.”

The steep terrain and drop-off – as well as the remote location - required additional assistance, the Sheriff's office said. Members of the fire departments for Cape Ferello and Brookings arrived on the scene, along with a US Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer, helping to carry the victim back to the parking lot. From there, the body was then released to Redwood Memorial Chapel, a funeral home in Brookings.

“The victim was identified as sixty-nine-year-old Richard Ehrhart from San Jose, California,” the department said.

Ehrhart had been hiking on the coastal Oregon trail with his wife when they became separated. She made it back to the couple's car without knowing he had fallen.

“A Chaplin had been called and responded to assist with the notification to Ehrhart’s wife, Susan Kimura,” the Sheriff's Office said. “The Oregon State Police is the lead agency for the investigation and has provided the information to the Curry County District Attorney.”

The Sheriff's office did not indicate if the recovery happened on the same date Kimura and Ehrhart had been hiking and become separated, or a different date.

Curry County officials want to remind the public to keep safety in mind out on those often-steep trails.

“We here at the Curry County Sheriff’s Office express our condolences to the family and friends of Richard Ehrhart,” the Office said. “We also want to remind everyone of the dangers of hiking the coastal trails, and to please be safe.”

The incident comes almost exactly a year after another man died on a similar trail in that area. On April 22 of 2023, Curry County Sheriff deputies spent five and a half hours rescuing three kids and one adult after they fell off a false trail near Secret Beach, which is just a few miles away from the Natural Bridges. The four had tumbled off a cliff near the Spruce Island View Point, just a bit north of Secret Beach. See One Deceased in Harrowing Fall, Rescue on S. Oregon Coast - Near Brookings

One child was found hanging precariously in a tree somewhere down the 200-foot drop to the bottom. He was eventually rescued by helicopter and sent to the hospital, but only after fog lifted and allowed the aircraft to come into the area.

The other three children were located at the bottom and brought up. The man, 36-year-old Ryan Acorn, had died from the fall.

The four from Grants Pass had made the wrong decision and went down a false trail, according to deputies, which abruptly ended in a cliff, causing them to tumble.

Many locals and regulars to the area commented on social media the area should have these false trails better marked and even cordoned off. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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