Three Fatal Accidents Recently Around Oregon Coast, One in Surf and Two on the Road

devil's churn
Photo of Devil's Churn at Cape Perpetua in Oregon (Public Domain, Jeff Hollett)

A man from California died last Thursday, September 9, when he made an "innocent mistake," according to a bystander. Steve Allen, of Walnut Creek, attempted to jump across a narrow gap in the Devils Churn on the Oregon Coast, as reported by the Oregon State Police. Witnesses reported the man lost his footing when attempting to leap across the churhn. Also reported was two fatal vehicular accidents which happened on Sunday, one reported along Highway 6 around 33 miles from Tillamook and the other on Highway 18 in wine country.

Devils Churn is a popular stopping point at Cape Perpetua, and is a bit narrow slice in the coastal basalt rock. The area is known for boiling water that kicks up giant sprays of waves.

An Oregon man, Andy Nelson, who was only 50 yards away was with his son, a student at Oregon State University had witnessed the man try to jump across a 3- to 4-foot wide section of Devils Churn. “It looks like you can jump across, but the other side is steep and slick,”  Nelson told YachatsNews. “He just missed his footing and fell back into the water.”

Both Nelson and his son did their best to rescue the victim, with 5 to 6 other bystanders with a line made up of belts, a dog leash and two shirts. The makeshift line was dropped 15 feet into the chute where Allen was floating on his back. According to the story, he was able to grab the line for 10 to 15 minutes, however, according to Nelson he appeared to have a "pretty big" head injury. Tragically, with the cold ocean not helping, he struggled until it became too hard for him to hold on and at some point let go.

The man is presumed drowned after bystanders attempted to pull him from the water with no luck. It was reported rescue crews were not able to find and recover his body. According to the story,  Aleen and his wife, Linda, were on the rocks near the east end of the deep, narrow chute when he had attempted to jump from the south side to the north. This had occurred around 2:20 p.m. when the tide was high. The U.S. Coast Guard continued their search for Allen until around 6:45 p.m.

The gully, south of Yachats, Devil's Churn is absolutely majestic however can be very dangerous. “Here you can watch the crashing waves and the dramatic churning action of the ocean inside the wave carved inlet that we call Devils Churn,” the Forest Service said on its website.

There have been past incidences, including a man in 2013 reported by News Lincoln County, who was visiting who fell into the Devils Churn, and was rescued with no major injuries. In 2002, the hand of a woman washed up on an Oregon beach nearby. It was assumed by police the woman feel or jumped into Devils Churn and disappeared, as reported by the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

This should be a reminder that a seemingly innocent stunt on the Oregon Coast as the ocean can be very unforgiving. The natural feature is too wide to jump across, even in the smallest sections. As mentioned by BeachConnection, people often explore the very back edge of the Churn, where waves head back into and are known for tossing up large objects into that section.

BeachConnection mentions Highway 6 between Portland and Tillamook has been problematic in recent times, with many reported fatalities reported throughout the summer. Sunday, Gene Carlson of Oregon City who is 66 years old, drifted off the highway, when he lost control and struck a guardrail. It's said his truck was towing a 17-foot boat and rolled over.

Also on Sunday, east of Mcminnville a 21-year-old Dayton man, pulled out of a private driveway and was struck on the side door by a motorcycle. The motorcycle was driven by a 22 year old man from Hillsboro, Michael Abeyta. The motorcycle driver died sometime later as he sustained fatal injuries. Jared Nissen who drove the other vehicle, a Toyota Camry, survived with minor injuries. His passenger, 21-year-old Samantha Maddox from Amity, was reported to have no injuries.

Below is a video to see Devil's Churn for yourself. Hit the link here to read the full story at Yachatnews.