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Three Recent Deaths Around Oregon Coast: Two in Traffic, One in Surf

Published 09/15/21 at 5:56 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Three Recent Deaths Around Oregon Coast: Two in Traffic, One in Surf

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(Yachats, Oregon) – A fatal jump across a famed Oregon coast attraction and two traffic deaths on the routes to the beaches are cause for continued vigilance for visitors, even during the months when things are slowing down. (Above: Devil's Churn)

Two fatal traffic accidents occurred Sunday, one along Highway 6 about 33 miles from Tillamook and another on Highway 18 in wine country.

Yet last week's incident at the Devil's Churn near Yachats is one that illustrates a need for keeping safety in mind at nature areas of the Oregon coast.

According to Oregon State Police (OSP), a California man - Steve Allen (67) of Walnut Creek – was declared missing and presumed late last week after attempting to jump the Devil's Churn and falling into what is almost always a chaotic brew of seawater.

Troopers, along with emergency personnel from Newport, Yachats and the U.S. Coast Guard, responded to the scene on September 9 about 2 p.m. There, other visitors had attempted to rescue the man, which included some throwing him a makeshift line and a quickly-fashioned raft of sorts. However, witnesses described Allen has having a considerable head injury and not being able to hold for long in the frothy chasm.

“Allen was last observed by rescue agencies unresponsive prior to losing sight of him,” OSP said in a press release.

The U.S. Coast Guard continued searching for him until about 6:45 p.m.

Witnesses told OSP he had tried to jump across the churn and lost his footing.


A woman very unwisely takes her kids along the backside of the Churn

This is a reminder that jumping across even the smallest sections of the Devil's Churn is never a good idea. The natural feature is too wide to do so without great risk. People frequently risk their lives at this Oregon coast landmark by hanging out too closely to the edges of the Churn and often get walloped by waves.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection caught just a scene back in 2008 (above), where you can see one person running from a wave that was about smack where she and her boyfriend were sitting.

People often wander the very back edge of the Churn as well, where the compacted waves head straight into. You need only look at the large pools of water there to see that big waves have hit that area. It's also known for tossing up large objects onto that section, which will easily kill or maim someone.

Highway 6 between Portland and Tillamook has been problematic all summer, with a rush of fatalities at one point. It proved deadly again Sunday when Gene Carlson (66) of Oregon City drifted off the highway, lost control and struck a guardrail. His truck was towing a 17-foot boat and rolled over.

Just east of McMinnville on Sunday, a 21-year-old Dayton man pulled out of a private driveway and was hit on the side door by a motorcycle driven by a 22-year-old Michael Abeyta of Hillsboro. He sustained fatal injured and died later. Jared Nissen, the driver of the other vehicle, sustained some injuries.

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Skinnier section of the Churn: this is still too wide to jump


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