Here’s a report on what happened as compiled by Oregon State Police:
Preliminary information reveals that Kelly SMITH, age 26, from Athens, Georgia, was visiting the coast for the first time with five other friends after finishing up a job in Corvallis before flying back home. He and another friend climbed out on the rocks beyond the viewpoint to get as close to the water as they could to take some photos. Suddenly a rogue wave approached and struck them from behind. SMITH was pulled by the current out into the rough seas.
An emergency call was immediately made and attempts to rescue SMITH were made by friends. He was seen alive in the surf for approximately seven minutes before sinking below the water. He was also seen several times floating by emergency responders. But he disappeared from view a short while later. Coast Guard Station Depoe Bay personnel aboard a 46′ motorlifeboat continues to search for SMITH’s body.
According to Oregon Parks & Recreation Department website, “They’re called sneaker waves because they appear without warning, often surging high up on the beach with deadly force, and are impossible to predict. Sneaker waves also carry a large amount of sand that can saturate your clothes, weighing you down and making escape difficult if not impossible.”
The website also states, “How to play it safe: Never turn your back on the ocean.”
As the incident happened earlier today:
Surf rescue call out for fire rescue at at Rocky Creek State Park. Man said to be in the water. Was trying to swim back to shore. Now possibly unconscious. Doesn’t look good.
Witnesses say the man is getting hammered by waves and he may have been caught in a rip tide because he seems to be moving away from shore.
Depoe Bay Fire-Rescue has spotted him. Unconscious in the water. Can’t get to him. A Coast Guard Depoe Bay motorlifeboat is enroute to the scene.
Communication radios are scratchy. Coast Guard says they don’t have him.
Water temperatures are pretty cold. Without a wetsuit, survival time for average adult is no more than around 20 minutes. He’s been in the water pushing a half-hour. No word yet on how he wound up in the water
Searchers have lost sight of him.
Coast Guard in Newport refueling their search helo and will continue to search for the man.