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New Mexico Man Drowns Clamming in N. Oregon Coast Bay, Body Found 2 Days Later

Published 4/11/24 at 6:35 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Netarts, Oregon) – Clamming is one of the prime attractions along the Oregon coast, but you have to be very aware of the tides. (Photo TCSO)

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Last week, a man visiting from New Mexico drowned while clamming in Netarts Bay, which is in Tillamook County near Oceanside. An incoming tide pulled him under and it took two days for local rescuers to find his body.

Tillamook County Sheriff's Office (TCSO) released information on the incident last week, saying it started on Thursday, April 4, about 8:30 p.m., when north coast authorities received a 911 call that an adult female and male were clamming at a slightly remote sand bar in the upper area of Netarts Bay. According to TCSO Marine Deputy Dennis Greiner, this spot was near the junction of Netarts Bay Dr. and Whiskey Creek Rd.

The name of the 54-year-old man was not released.

“The woman made it to shore and turned around to look for the man, but could not see him,” Deputy Greiner said. “The last time she saw him he had water up to his neck. The man was also wearing waders. She immediately called 911.”

Tillamook Ambulance medics, TCSO, the US Coast Guard, Netarts-Oceanside Fire, and Garibaldi Fire Rescue were among the responders at the site. While the medics stayed on land, the other teams conducted a search of the bay and coastal area for the man. It lasted for approximately three hours.

“Tillamook 911 dispatchers supported the units that responded, and a USCG Helicopter from Astoria was dispatched and continued the search until their fuel was depleted,” stated TCSO. “The helicopter remained in the area for an extended search.”

Courtesy TCSO

With no success and darkness having come some time before, searchers abandoned the effort for the night but returned at daybreak, searching again for several more hours, Greiner said.

A day later, on Saturday, April 6, Tillamook 911 received a call at 5:30 p.m. from a group of people who were crabbing on Netarts Bay, saying they had found a deceased man partially in the water. OSP Troopers and deputies from TCSO responded to an area close to where the man had been seen.

“Corporal Chris Barnett and I walked out to the reported location and found a deceased adult male lying prone in the sand,” said Deputy David Bartlett. “It was determined to be the man who had been reported missing on April 4. He was still wearing black waist-high waders, a zippered jacket, and yellow gloves. I observed no suspicious injuries.”

It took two days, but they were finally able to recover the man's body.

Oregon State Parks and Recreation (OPRD) said you should always know the tides when you're on the coast, but especially if you plan any activity in the water.

“Know when the tide is coming in, especially when exploring tidepools or secluded beaches,” OPRD said. “Incoming tides can quickly leave you stranded away from shore. Be extra careful during extreme high or low tides and storms.”

Clamming in a bay requires even more vigilance.

More on Netarts Bay: Did you know it has ghost forests? One example is over 80,000 years old. New Ghost Forest Found at N. Oregon Coast's Happy Camp a Chilling Reminder

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Photo TCSO (larger version)

Photos below of Netarts / Oregon Coast Beach Connection

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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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