Two Clam Diggers On Washington’s Coast Die in Surf Over The Weekend
”Sneaker waves” may have been involved
February 05, 2018
(LONG BEACH, WA.) – Two people lost their lives in the ocean surf on Saturday while clam digging on ocean beaches in Pacific County.
Clam diggers along Washington’s coast. Photo: Pacific County Sheriff’s Office.
A statement from the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office says one incident occurred in the north county near Grayland, and the second incident occurred on the Long Beach peninsula.
Both incidents were reported to Pacific County Sheriff's PACCOM 911 Communications Center within four minutes of each other. Both victims were female, and were accompanied by their spouses while out clam digging.
The first call came in to 911 at 8:57 pm Saturday night from the Oysterville beach approach north of Ocean Park on the Long Beach Peninsula. A 70 year old Ocean Park, WA woman was lost in the surf while digging clams.
“Sheriff's Office personnel along with South Pacific County Technical Rescue (Surf Rescue) responders were immediately dispatched to search the area,” said the statement. “Preliminary information is that a responding USCG (US Coast Guard) helicopter was involved in a bird strike and was unable to proceed to the scene. The search was further hampered due to rough surf and inclement weather conditions, however USCG was later able to dispatch a ground search crew to the area to work with other responders.”
The second call came in at 9:01 pm with a 61-year old woman from Toledo, Washington reported as missing in the surf near the Warrenton Cannery Road.
That woman had also been digging clams with her husband when the two became separated earlier in the evening. Rescue personnel from several agencies were immediately dispatched to the scene and began searching the area.
The body of the missing Ocean Park woman was located at 5pm Sunday near Westport, WA in Grays Harbor County. The body of the missing Toledo woman was located between the Cranberry and Midway beach approaches in Pacific County at approximately 5:38 am Sunday.
The sheriff’s office statement says the incidents, “Serve as a tragic reminder that one must always be vigilant of the powerful surf and waves that are often present on our ocean beaches. Always stay close to other clammers, bring a flashlight or lantern, a waterproof cell phone, and never turn your back on the surf as "sneaker waves" can appear at any time.”