Authorities said two adults were seriously injured during efforts to rescue two children on Friday, Aug. 16.
At around noon, personnel from Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, Coast Guard Station Tillamook Bay, Tillamook Fire Department and Tillamook Ambulance responded to the beach at Cape Meares for a water rescue.
A statement from TCSO said two children were reportedly swept offshore and into deep water by strong rip currents. The children were rescued from the water by beachgoers before emergency personnel arrived, according to TCSO.
The statement said during the effort to get the children out of the water, two adults reportedly sustained serious injuries and were taken to Tillamook Regional Medical Center for medical care. The names of the subjects involved were withheld pending further investigation by TCSO’s Marine Division.
“Rip currents represent a significant danger to those swimming and playing in the water on our beaches, it is very important to be aware of this danger as tragedy can strike quickly,” Sheriff Jim Horton said. “If not for the heroic efforts of the witnesses on scene this could have been an enormous tragedy.”
The incident remained under investigation as of Friday afternoon.
A rip current was said to have been responsible for the death of a man who was swimming in the ocean near Nehalem Bay State Park the evening of Aug. 2. Three men who were reportedly without wetsuits were reported have been pulled out into the ocean in the fatal incident.
The man who died was later identified as Vladimir Kravchenko, 38, of Vancouver, Washington was taken by ambulance to Tillamook Regional Medical Center and declared dead. This victim’s family, who were staying at the Nehalem Bay State Park, were reported to have been at the hospital.
A friend of Kravchenko advised TCSO personnel that they had been swimming in the surf about 50-100 yards out when the current began pulling them farther. The group decided to swim back to shore. The friend told TCSO he tried to help Kravchenko but began to get extremely tired, so he started to swim out of the rip current. Other swimmers assisted in retrieving Kravchenko and began CPR.
According to TCSO, since January of this year Tillamook County First Responders have been called out to 27 water rescues. TCSO said at least 22 percent of these were related to people being pulled out in rip currents.
A rip current is a relatively narrow, fast moving current in the beach surf zone that moves away from the beach. Some of these are very strong and fast and can also have undertows. They occur along the beaches of the west and east coast.
When you combine these currents with the cooler water temperature, currently the ocean temperature in that area is around 59, and the wind chill resulting from the higher beach winds, even the best swimmers can find themselves in trouble.
TCSO Lt. Gordon McCraw, Tillamook County emergency manager, offered the following safety tips:
- 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.