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Suspected Car Thief Drives Off Slide Area on N. Oregon Coast, Car Catches Fire

Published 1/23/24 at 5:45 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Suspected Car Thief Drives Off Slide Area on N. Oregon Coast, Car Catches Fire

(Tierra Del Mar, Oregon) – Someone driving what was apparently a stolen vehicle ignored barriers at a dangerous slide area on the north Oregon coast and crashed the car, sliding off a sizable drop and then catching fire. (Photo Tillamook County Sheriff's Office)

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Tillamook County sheriffs deputies early Sunday morning responded to a 911 call of a car on fire at the break in Sandlake Road immediately south of Tierra Del Mar. Deputies, fire fighters and EMT's arrived on scene around 8:30 a.m. to find an unknown driver had not only ignored the barriers at a dangerous slide area but had plunged into the drop-off, some 10 feet down. The vehicle was overturned and still burning.

The slide occurred here on December 6 and this road between Tierra Del Mar and Pacific City have been closed ever since. It's about 200 feet of earth that had given way, creating a large hole. See Two Road Washouts on N. Oregon Coast Could Drastically Affect Traffic

The driver and anyone else who might've been in the vehicle were nowhere to be found, said Deputy Ben Berger, apparently fleeing on foot.

About an hour later, authorities received a 911 call that the car had been stolen sometime before the wreck. The caller lived about five miles away.

KOIN-TV is reporting that even though the car was still on fire to some degree, firefighters were not going to douse it with water because it could make the slide worse.

This now possibly makes whoever was driving a suspect in a car theft, on top of any charges or citations for ignoring the barriers and causing the accident.

The crash and reported auto theft investigation is ongoing. Oregon coast authorities ask that if you have any information regarding this incident, please contact Deputy Ben Berger at 503-815-3392.

This slide area has not only been a problem for local traffic along the southern edge of the Three Capes Loop but it's been the cause of other, similar risk-taking.

“The road has been closed for sometime, but they removed the barrier and road closed signs and drove directly into the hole,” said Deputy Berger. “This has been an ongoing problem, with people removing the barriers and driving on the closed portion of the road. Obviously it is extremely dangerous.”

Tillamook County Public Works said on its Facebook page that contractors are scheduled to work on the site at the end of the month, first stabilizing the uphill lane. They expect it to reopen in March – just in time for spring break on the Oregon coast.

In the meantime, this incident is proof how hazardous the slide section can be.

“Do Not move the concrete barriers, cut the chains, etc.,” the county said on its Facebook page.

Also on scene were Oregon State Trooper Jon King, Nestucca Fire and Tillamook Ambulance.

“As always, our Tillamook 911 dispatchers coordinated the emergency response and assisted throughout this incident,” the sheriff's office said.

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Below: slide photos courtesy Tillamook County Sheriff's

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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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