DEPOE BAY, Ore. (AP) — A wave hit two recent immigrants from China as they visited the Oregon coast, sweeping them out into the ocean and killing them.
Miaochan Chen, 49, and Wenjun Zhu, 41, from Lake Oswego, Oregon, perished on Sunday but their 10-year-old daughter was unharmed, Capt. Tim Fox of the Oregon State Police said Monday.
The family had been picnicking near Depoe Bay when they took a trail down to rocks overlooking the ocean. A wave washed over the rocks, engulfing the couple. Their daughter was unharmed.
The Coast Guard found the couple and took them by helicopter from the ocean to a nearby state park. Life-saving measures were attempted as they were driven by ambulance to a hospital, but they succumbed to their injuries and were pronounced dead.
The family immigrated in July. A state agency placed their daughter into a local foster home.
Family members were notified with the help of the Chinese consulate. The Department of Human Services will work with the family for the daughter’s further placement.
The girl is a sixth-grader at Lake Oswego Junior High, the Lake Oswego School District said in a statement, according to ABC News.
“We are profoundly saddened by the tragic incident that occurred over the weekend,” Superintendent Michael Musick said in the statement. “We send our condolences to the family and to their friends. Our first concern is for our student and her well-being.”
So-called sneaker waves sometimes claim lives of the unwary along the coast of the Pacific Northwest.
“The U.S. Coast Guard and OSP reminds all beach-goers, residents and visitors to the Pacific Northwest coast to always be aware of the dangerous conditions that exist on the coastline regions. Being aware of tidal changes and wave patterns can help you avoid these types of tragic situations,” Oregon State Police wrote in a statement.
Tuba Ozkan-Haller, a wave researcher at Oregon State University, recommends that when people go to the beach in Northern California, Oregon and Washington state — which because of the nature of the coastline are susceptible to sneaker waves — they study the wave action and ensure escape routes aren’t blocked by rocks or cliffs.