“Embrace in your loving arms
all who are grieving the loss
of family and loved ones
through tragic circumstance;
where lives are in turmoil,
hope turns to despair
and pain is all that’s felt.
Be with them in their sorrow,
uphold them with your strength,
and through the generosity
of love shown by others and your presence within their hearts
may they know they are not alone,
in their struggle through today”
Amanda Plumeau-Benedict to Manzanita, OR
To the officer that responded yesterday from Manzanita to Falcon Cove and pulled out the man and child. You are a hero and you are appreciated. Please take care of yourself, and thank you for your bravery.
By Laura Swanson, Editor, Tillamook County Pioneer
Here we are again. Grieving the tragic loss of life, gone in a blink and the community continues to hear the Coast Guard helicopter searching for the wee one’s body. The greater tragedy here has been the lack of compassion for this family — with name-calling and unkind, unnecessary comments on social media. So much judgement and anger. And the Coast Guard helicopter continues to search. Yes there were warnings – but we don’t know the circumstances, and it really doesn’t matter. Could we do more? Absolutely. We’ve been here before, and in the last 18 months, too many times.
In June of 2018, after the drownings on Rockaway Beach, a group of concerned citizens and government officials held some meetings to review an outline for posters, flyers, brochures, videos, more signage, a beacon system and a beach/trails ambassador program.
Since then, just in our area, we’ve lost four more people. The impacts on our first responders, Coast Guard, and the community is immense and gets heavier every time. There are more people here, and more people visiting. We can’t “save them all”, as my dad used to say “you can’t fix stupid.” But we can do a much better job about educating and informing them about the power of our natural wonders. The tourism industry fears “scaring the tourists and then they won’t come.” If scaring them prevents another tragedy and our police officers don’t have to drag another body from the ocean, and they can come back to visit again and again, that’s building our community’s resiliency, and reducing trauma.
Let’s have posters in all our storefronts on the coast, flyers and brochures in all the rentals and restaurants, and beach walkers empowered and trained to educate in the moment. People will ignore signs and warnings, they will have “vacation brain”, or feel invincible, but at least as a community we will know that we’ve done our due diligence. If you are interested in a beach/trail safety program, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a link to an article by Pioneer contributor Victoria Stoppiello (from 1998) that we ran after the Rockaway Beach drownings in June, 2018 – that emphasized how this can happen to anyone, at any time – the power of the ocean. Just Think: Lessons in the Surf https://www.tillamookcountypioneer.net/just-think-lessons-in-the-surf/