CANNON BEACH, Ore. — Mother Nature’s power was on full display this past weekend as waves crashed in on the shore of the Oregon Coast. Those waves were made stronger still by the infamous King Tide.
Jon Wilmoth drove from Beaverton to Cannon Beach Sunday to see them for himself.
"There’s no beach. All the water is just blown up and big waves," he said.
Marsha Parmer and her friends watched the battering waves and frothing sea foam from afar.
"They come so fast and so high. I mean, the water went up like 2 feet in a matter of seconds. I mean they were that fast," Parmer said. "The force, the speed, and the high tides are just phenomenal."
An awe-inspiring site, but those waves can be deadly.
Saturday, shortly before 1 p.m., a father and his two children were swept away by a wave south of Cannon Beach at Falcon Cove.
The father, now identified as 47-year-old Jeremy Stiles from Portland, was holding his 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son when it happened, police said.
An officer with the Manzanita Police Department arrived on the scene to find Stiles struggling to get out of the ocean and his daughter further out in the water. That officer went into the ocean to bring the girl to shore. However, she was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The father was also taken to the hospital and was expected to survive, according to Oregon State Police.
The U.S. Coast Guard sent in helicopters to search for the boy Saturday. That search was suspended at sunset and did not resume Sunday.
The 4-year-old boy is still missing.
People who live here in the Falcon Cove area tell KGW that their beach is dangerous year-round, but especially troublesome in the winter. When the waves come crashing in on the shore it essentially takes the beach away, leaving you nowhere to go.
"When you don’t see any beach there, it’s just not a safe place to be. And when you don’t see enough beach or enough area to get away from it, it’s a super dangerous place to be and that’s the conditions that we’re dealing with right now," Cannon Beach Emergency Manager Rick Hudson said.
Hudson said tragedies such as this hit his tight-knit coastal community hard. Not only are hearts heavy for those who fall victim to sneaker waves and high tides, but it’s a risky situation for local rescue teams.
"You’ve got to be prepared and you’ve got to pay attention and respect that environment because if you get injured as an individual, five or six, if not 10 people are going to come and help you. They may become at risk as well,” he said.
This weekend, a family lost their two children to the Mother Nature’s power. It is a gut-wrenching reminder to never turn your back on the ocean.
"You just have to respect it because it can be really dangerous really fast out here," Hudson said.