Just before 3 p.m. on Jan. 3, North Lincoln Fire and Rescue (NLFR) received a report of a man in the water near NW 70th Street and Logan Road in Lincoln City.
The man was suspected to be under the influence of multiple intoxicants and was not wearing clothing while willingly trudging through the waves. Lincoln City was under a high surf advisory last weekend with waves reportedly as high as 30 feet crashing into the beach and up to the riprap walls.
At one point the subject was in water over his head and was struck by a log. A local resident, Steven Moore, said he heard the man yelling in the water and called upon his neighbor to help him extract the man out of the surf before rescue crews arrive.
“I called my neighbor Jimmy. Him and another guy walk up and we all see the man in the ocean getting taken over by waves,” Moore said. “We immediately start making our way down to him using the edge of the rocks dodging several sneaker waves.”
Moore said when they reached about two houses away, they saw a rescue team approaching from the south. Watching as the rescue crews battle the large waves, Moore and the others decide to spring into action.
“Jimmy, myself and another guy go in once we see the tide starting to recede. We get up to him and try to get him to come back and he starts fighting with us immediately, grabbing my hair, taking us all down into a big wave,” Moore said. “I grab his hand and rip it from my hair, we are taken over by several waves and I go under for a few seconds planting my feet away from the ocean, this is the time the rescue team comes in and starts assisting us getting him out.”
Moore said the struggling persisted until each rescuer is able to grab a leg or arm individually. The crew was hit by several sneaker waves causing additional concerns. Moore said they were able to get the subject to a nearby flat spot on a set of shoreline stairs. That’s when Moore and the other bystanders decided their work was done.
“They inject him and subdue him then load him onto a board and load him into an ambulance,” Moore said. “We were in the water about four minutes and in total I saw him in the water for over 15 minutes.”
NLFR Chief Robb Dahlman said the rescue took four NLFR personnel and the three bystanders who were all risking their lives to save the man.
“I was called by Lincoln City Police Sgt. Randy Weaver who had to relay the fact that it was sheer heroism on the part of NLFR personnel that saved this mans life,” Dahlman said. “Many times while he was waiting for personnel to arrive, and watching the subject, he thought this man was going to die.
“Several of the rescuers commented to me this was one of those really scary rescues that your training, trust in each other and your equipment makes a difference.”