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N. Oregon Coast's Seaside Sees Disheartening 16 Ocean Rescues, One Death

Published 08/25/22 at 6:42 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

N. Oregon Coast's Seaside Sees Disheartening 16 Ocean Rescues, One Death

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(Seaside, Oregon) – A rather stunningly bad weekend for water rescues in one Oregon coast town is leading local officials to vehemently urge caution. Seaside had some 16 people in distress while in the ocean this past weekend, which wound up including one death. (Photo Seaside Fire & Rescue)

Seaside Fire & Rescue (SFR) Beach Lifeguards and the Water Rescue Team had to pull 16 individuals out of the surf on August 20 and 21. raising some alarm bells in the area. While beach lifeguards are on duty from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, these incidents still occurred over the busy weekend. The beach here is extremely wide and they can only see in the immediate vacinity: in fact, some of the lifeguards themselves were put in harms way over the weekend.

Officials say it's not simply lack of caution that's to blame here.

“The water temp is unusually warm for this time of year so people are venturing farther out and ultimately getting into trouble,” SFR said on its Facebook page. “There are lots of rip currents and drop-offs everywhere. PLEASE stay shallow and check in with a lifeguard to find out where the safer areas are to play in the water.”

SFR is referring to the steep drop-offs that happen with high sand levels. They leave massive spaces between the blobs of sand, which are fine when you can see them on a dry beach. The problem happens when they're at the tideline and people cannot see where they're wading. Some of these drops can be almost ten feet, and they shock the body when you hit bottom. See Hidden Summer Dangers at Tideline of Oregon Coast / Washington Coast - Video 


Seaside: photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection

According to the City of Seaside, the run of incidents started around 2:33 p.m. on Saturday, August 20, as SFR responded to a call around 6th Ave. Three lifeguards were already in the water in an active rip current themselves, as they attempted to rescue two individuals in the ocean. Multiple bystanders on land were trying to help.

Jet skis were deployed, which made for a quick rescue of the two. Both were transported to hospital in Seaside. The female teen ended up surviving, but a male in his 50s was unconscious in the water and he was soon pronounced dead.

More rescues followed, including another in Cannon Beach almost immediately after this incident. Lifeguards and rescuers from Seaside pulled another two out of the ocean near Avenue U some two hours after the 6th Ave. incident. One of them, a 27-year-old woman, told rescue personnel that they were in waist-deep water one minute and struggling in water over their heads the next.

Officials in the north Oregon coast town want to remind beachgoers that the Pacific Ocean creates a variety of dangers.

“Please use extreme caution and always enter the water with others present,” the city said in a press release. “Avoid areas prone to rip currents and understand how to escape by swimming parallel to the beach. Learn more, including how to recognize a rip current from the beach, at SeasideFire.com/beach-safety.”

Genesee Dennis, Division Chief of Prevention for SFR, said the department's thoughts and prayers were with the victims and the families this week, but he was also adamant about preventing this in the future.

“We cannon stress the unpredictable dangers of the ocean enough,” said Dennis.

Signs have been posted in the incident area advising of the immediate rip current dangers of this part of the north Oregon coast.

It's all something that has taken aback some officials, including the Director of Tourism Marketing for Seaside, Joshua Heineman.

“I have no idea if this is a record number of water rescues for one weekend, but it’s far too high,” Heineman said. “Seaside Fire & Rescue & Seaside lifeguards are heroes beyond a doubt.”

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

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