On May 19, 2019, 21-year-old Michelle Casey fell while taking photos at the Neahkhanie Mountain overlook. Despite the best efforts of the rope rescue teams from Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue and Cannon Beach Fire, Michelle did not survive her injuries.
In Michelle’s memory, her family organized a fundraiser to provide much needed rescue equipment and training for both fire-rescue agencies. In December 2019, both agencies received a check for $2750. Then, earlier this month, members from both departments had the opportunity to meet Michelle’s family and receive a check for $11,500. The total donation to each agency was $14,250. (Total $28,500)
So far, Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue has utilized the funds to design and purchase a lightweight rope rescue system that can be deployed in remote or hard-to-access areas by a small team of rescuers. This kit can be carried and deployed very quickly by as few as two people. Remaining funds will be put towards the purchase of an aerial drone to aid in search and rescue, and to provide initial rope rescue training for more volunteers.
More information on the fundraiser can be found at: https://gf.me/u/ym5yja
Here’s is the story from the GoFundMe page:
On May 19, 2019, our 21-year-old daughter Michelle Casey was with a friend at the Neahkahnie Mt. overlook. She slipped and lost her balance, falling over 100 feet and suffering traumatic injuries. Members of the Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue responded and their rope rescue team rappelled down to her and her friend who had free-climbed down to her. It was an extremely dangerous situation and it took over two hours to bring them both up. Despite the intense efforts to save her life, our girl did not survive. We lost her that night.
As her family, we don’t want anyone else to ever go through this same tragic experience, so we asked what we could do to help both the Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue team and their neighbors to the north, Cannon Beach Fire & Rescue. The Fire Chief at Nehalem came up with a list of 3 vital resources that could help them get to a patient faster, more securely, and more efficiently.
#1- A rescue system that can be hauled in via a backpack, allowing the first responders to be able to get to someone quickly and safely. This will be called a “Casey Kit” in Michelle’s memory.
#2- Additional training for new members of the team- Cannon Beach Fire & Rescue is still building their rope rescue response and training is both vital and expensive.
#3- A tactical drone. This is a specific request from Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue. A drone would have made a huge impact on the response time when Michelle fell. The team was going in blind, and a drone would have given them the ability to find her and her friend quickly as well as map out a safe route. The type of drone they are looking at also has thermal imaging sensors and enough power to carry a life jacket or a line to someone that is stranded or in the water.
Cannon Beach’s Fire Chief also shared that much of their vital rescue equipment is over 20 years old and desperately in need of replacement.
To fulfill these needs we are asking you to help us reach our goal. These funds will be distributed to both fire districts as they work closely together to keep everyone safe. The Oregon Coast, for all its beauty, can be a dangerous place and we want to make it just a little safer. We can do that with your help.
Our sweet Michelle had a heart as warm as her smile. She always put others first and we know she would be so thrilled to be a part of this. Please help us honor her and save other’s lives by donating today.
Updates- AUGUST 11, 2020
by Colleen Casey, Organizer
Our deepest gratitude to everyone who contributed to our GoFundMe campaign in memory of our daughter, Michelle Casey. She would be so proud of each of you and so very happy to know she is helping to save lives. We are honored by your kindness and generosity.
$23,000 was divided evenly between the Cannon Beach and Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue teams. The new lightweight rope rescue “Casey Kit” (one of the 2 backpacks containing the system is in the center of the collage image shown here*) is already in place at NBF&R and I know Cannon Beach is already ordering their new equipment, including a lightweight stokes rescue basket and wheel assembly. Both teams are also planning on using the funds to continue rope rescue training.
If you are ever on Neahkahnie Mt. – please be careful and stay safe. And if you’d like to send Michelle a prayer or a warm thought, please do so. It is such a beautiful place, that it must be close to heaven.
Peace and light to you all,
* masks were worn, they were just removed for pictures