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Tragedy unfolds after father and children swept out to sea by 'sneaker wave'

January 14, 2020 - 2:03 pm
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(PORTLAND) -- An Oregon family is speaking out after a so-called sneaker wave hit an off-beach trail on Saturday, sweeping three people out to sea, including the father of two young children.

A 7-year-old girl died, a 4-year-old boy remains missing, and Jeremy Stiles, 47, was still recoving from hypothermia in a local hospital as of Tuesday.

"The Stiles/Romaine families want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers and especially the support of the first responders and Coast Guard during this horrific tragedy for our family," a spokesperson for the family wrote in a GoFundMe post.

According to the statement, first responders reported Stiles and his children were on an off-beach trail when a sneaker wave appeared and pulled them into the ocean.

"Our hearts as you can imagine could not be more broken as both children were loved beyond measure by our entire family and so many others," the family's statement read.

A sneaker wave is a coastal wave that runs up a beach without warning. The National Weather Service of Portland said the waves can contain enough force to knock people off their feet or lift large objects including logs or rocks.

Last year, ABC Portland affiliate KATU reported a woman was hospitalized after she was crushed by a log picked up by a sneaker wave. She broke more than a dozen ribs and her tailbone.

While the Pacific Northwest continues to experience rough weather, a number of Oregon beaches remain open.

The Cannon Beach Police told KATU that while authorities have increased efforts to warn people to stay away from the beach, they do not have enough personnel to staff every beach entrance.

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