Ellen Steen

Ellen Steen

It was a beautiful summer day in Cape Meares on Friday, Aug. 16, around lunchtime when, without warning, disaster struck.

Two young boys were playing in the surf on their boogie boards when they got caught in a rip tide and pulled out to sea. Bystanders were able to rescue them, but a man and a woman who went out in the ocean after the children could not return on their own. The woman was pulled ashore by two fisherman and a young woman, but the man was still in the water when our three Cape Meares volunteer firefighters arrived on the scene.

Mike Smith, who had first gone to our station house to get emergency equipment, rushed to help the woman who had been brought ashore and was lying on the beach off the Pacific Ave. entrance. She had ingested a lot of seawater and, although breathing, needed extra oxygen. Olli Ollikainen and Randy Klobas went further south on the beach to help pull the man out of the surf and to provide medical assistance. Sirens went off for well over 30 minutes as various emergency units responded, including personnel from the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, Coast Guard Station Tillamook Bay, Tillamook Fire Department, and Tillamook Ambulance.

The two adults were breathing but semi-conscious with serious injuries when transported to the Tillamook Regional Hospital. One of the children was also taken to the hospital for an existing medical condition not related to the day’s events. We have heard since that the victims had extensive evaluations at the hospital and were ultimately released; we wish them a full recovery. We owe a big THANK YOU to the Cape Meares volunteer firefighters and all other emergency personnel involved in this water rescue.

Safety tips from Gordon McCraw, Tillamook County’s emergency manager:

• If you find yourself in a rip current, first, stay calm, don’t try to swim against the current. Swim parallel to the coastline until you get out of the current.

• Once you are free of the current, you can swim back to shore.

• If you are unable to escape the current, just float or tread the water. If you need help, face the beach, yell, and wave your arms and continue to float or tread the water.

• Never swim alone. Have someone designated to watch from the beach and consider wearing a life vest.

A family thank-you to Melinda Conti, a part-time Cape Meares resident who was out biking on the beach when our son, Erik Steen, pulled in a special catch of two surf perch at once, one of them very large. Melinda took Erik’s picture and sent it to us; it was a great shot! Erik, his brother-in-law and his dad caught five perch that morning. Surf perch are tasty coated with bread crumbs and fried. It’s best to fish for surf perch on an incoming tide with calm surf; use sand shrimp, clam necks or night crawlers for bait.

See you at the Labor Day potluck on Sept. 1 at 1 p.m.

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