Rescuers warn of Oregon coast rip currents

Credit: Jeremy C. Ruark, The Lincoln City News Guard

Rescuers warn of Oregon coast rip currents

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by KGW Reporter Erica Heartquist

Bio | Email | Follow: @EricaHeartquist

kgw.com

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 6:18 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 2 at 8:24 AM

LINCOLN CITY, Ore. -- With temperatures in the 90s in the Portland Metro area, a lot of people have been heading to the coast to cool down.

But rescuers there are dealing with their own set of problems, including too many swimmers getting caught in the dangerous rip currents.

There are no lifeguards on duty in Lincoln City. Many of the water rescue crews are volunteers, so they're not always on shift. Rescue crews say swimmers need to understand what the ocean's doing before they get in.

"It will pull you out and you will not win that fight," firefighter James Middleton said.

"Whenever you're on the beach, keep your eyes open," he added.

Middleton should know. On Friday, he was the first man to swim out to try and save a Vancouver woman from drowning.

"When I arrived, I saw the [woman] face down right past the breakers," he said pointing to the ocean at the D River Wayside. The woman did not survive.

Two others had to be rescued from a rip current in the exact same spot. Eleven people were pulled from the ocean this weekend alone in Lincoln City, four of them were hospitalized, said Capt. Jim Kusz, spokesman with North Lincoln Fire & Rescue District No. 1.

"You have to keep an eye on them because you never know," said Lupe Avalos, visiting the OceanLake Beach area from California.

"It makes me nervous watching the kids way out there," said Nikki Tedders of Salem.

Kusz said it's easier to see if there's a rip current from above, so look out on the water first before getting in. Also, he said you can spot a rip current by looking for where there's a break in an incoming wave pattern.

"You can swim out of them, but you have to swim parallel to the shore not straight out from the ocean," said Capt. Kusz.

 

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