LONG BEACH — Rescuers on Wednesday night spent more than two hours unsuccessfully searching for a woman who disappeared in the surf, roughly 100 yards north of the Sid Snyder beach approach.

Police, fire, medical and surf rescue responders from a variety of local agencies used boats, a helicopter, vehicles and foot patrols to search the area extending roughly from Seaview to North Long Beach from roughly 10:40 p.m. on Sept. 7 until 12:40 a.m. on Sept. 8, but did not recover her body. The Coast Guard continued searching until 2 a.m. Thursday.

The woman, who will not be publicly identified until next of kin are notified, was the second person to drown on a Peninsula beach this summer.

Pacific County emergency dispatchers first alerted rescuers of a report of “a woman with no clothing on” in the water at about 10:30 p.m. The dispatchers said she went into the water near the site of a small campfire on the beach. She was described as 5-feet 5 inches tall and 130 pounds.

Within about five minutes, responders from the South Pacific County Technical Rescue (surf rescue), local fire departments and Medix ambulance, and a U.S. Coast Guard boat were in route, and a dispatcher said police were with the missing woman’s boyfriend at the scene. The other responders arrived at about 10:40 p.m. At about the same time, a responder asked a dispatcher to notify emergency responders that they should send more trucks to the beach, if possible.

“We need all the spotters we can get,” the man said.

Around 10:45 p.m., a rescuer asked USCG to dispatch a search helicopter. Responders then switched to communicating on a tactical channel, and only brief snippets of conversation could be heard on the common public safety scanner channel for the remainder of the search effort.

At 10:50 p.m., a rescuer, relaying information to USCG through dispatch, said the woman had already been in the water for a minimum of 25 minutes. The USCG helicopter arrived at about 11 p.m., and continued to sweep back and forth over the water in widening circles for the remainder of the search effort. As the evening wore on, the helicopter began venturing further north and south, a possible indication that responders were shifting from a rescue effort to a recovery effort.

Radio communications between the various parties hinted at the challenges of conducting a search at night, when reduced visibility and cooler temperatures increase the risks for both the victim and the rescuers. The incident started roughly two hours before low high tide, according to local weather website 642weather.com. At the time, the air temperature and water temperature were both between about 55 and 60 degrees. According to various internet sources, a healthy person who is in 50 to 60-degree water typically reaches the point of exhaustion or unconsciousness in one to two hours, but can sometimes survive for as long as six hours. Historically, most of the Peninsula’s dozens of drowning victims have succumbed to the water in far less than six hours.

When a Chinook Observer reporter and photojournalist arrived at the beach at roughly 11:45 p.m., about eight vehicles from local agencies were on the beach. Several volunteer firefighters from the Long Beach Fire Department were cruising the beach, while a Coast Guard vessel used powerful lights to search in the water near shore, and “spotters” onshore searched for any hint of the woman. Around midnight, rescuers began firing a flare-gun every few minutes, to cast a brighter, bigger pool of light over the water. A low cloud cover turned into a wet fog, further hindering the search effort.

With little chance of finding the woman amid worsening conditions, local rescuers suspended the search at about 12:40 a.m., and a convoy of emergency vehicles left the beach. A Coast Guard aircrew continued a fruitless search until 2 a.m.

This is a breaking news story. The Chinook Observer will update the story as more information becomes available.

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