Walnut Creek man’s death along Oregon coast due to ‘innocent mistake,’ witness says

One of several bystanders, who tried to rescue a Walnut Creek man from drowning after he fell into the turbulent waters of a scenic Oregon cove known as the “Devil’s Churn,” said the man wasn’t attempting “a stunt” when he jumped over a narrow opening at the cove’s eastern end.

Instead, Steve Allen, 67, appeared to think he could hurdle the opening, which was about three to four feet wide, Andy Nelson of Portland told YachatsNews.com.

“It looks like you can jump across, but the other side is steep and slick,” Nelson told the YachatsNews.com. “He just missed his footing and fell back into the water.”

Allen was swept away into the waves of Devil’s Churn and is presumed dead. Devil’s Churn is a natural wonder and popular stopping point in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, off U.S. Highway 101 and south of Yachats on the central Oregon coast.

“Troopers and emergency personnel responded for a subject who had fallen into the ocean at Devils Churn,” Oregon State Police said in a news release, according to the Associated Press. “Fellow visitors attempted to rescue Allen but were unable to retrieve him from the water.”

Devil’s Church actually is less a cove and more a narrow chasm formed on both sides by coastal basalt rocks. Its name comes from the roiling Pacific Ocean waves that crash into the inlet and churn inside. Visitors access Devil’s Churn via “The Trail of the Restless Way” off 101 in the scenic area, which is operated by the U.S. Forest Service.

Allen was with his wife, Linda, when he fell into the water, Nelson said, according to YachatsNews.com.

Nelson and his college-student son, Evan, and five or six other bystanders frantically tried to help rescue Allen, YachatsNews.com said. They worked together to fashion a line made up of belts, a dog leash and two shirts, dropped into the chasm. Allen was able to grab the line and hold on for about 10 to 15 minutes.

During the rescue, Nelson’s son ran to the Forest Service concession area to call 911 and to return with a park ranger with a life ring.

But Nelson told YachatsNews.com that Allen appeared to have a “pretty big” head injury, and he struggled with his grip in the frigid water. “And then it became hard for him to hold on,” Nelson said. “Then he let go. It was too late.”

Allen was last observed by rescue agencies unresponsive prior to losing sight of him, according to the AP. The U.S. Coast Guard and other responding agencies suspended their search at approximately 6:40 p.m. Allen is presumed to be dead, officials said.

Go to Source
Author: Martha Ross