Large waves damage property, sweep man into ocean

LINCOLN CITY, Ore. (KOIN) -- A 46-year-old man named Jose Alfredo Rodriquez is presumed dead after he was swept into the ocean north of Depoe Bay around 11:30 a.m. Thursday, the Oregon State Police said. 

Witnesses said Rodriquez went over the sea wall to look at the ocean and was swept off the rocks.

Search crews were there within 10 minutes with a helicopter and searched all day, but the searched was called off at 7:15 p.m. The Coast Guard said due to ocean temperature and conditions, they do not plan to continue searching Friday. 

Rodriquez has no known family in the area. He was living in Newport but is from Mexico, so next of kin is being notified via the Mexican Consulate. 

Large "sneaker" waves have killed more than two dozen people along the Oregon coast since 1990. The incidents generally occur during late fall and winter.



Very large waves and strong winds are slamming the Oregon coast, which could produce flooding during high tide in low lying areas.

The areas of concern include beaches and inlets from Willapa Bay, Astoria, Seaside, Tillamook and Florence.

Westerly swells at 32 feet and above at normal high tide are expected.

Crowds arrived at Cape Kiwanda, in awe of the size and power of the high surf. Some people who live in the area told KOIN 6 News they've never seen the ocean be this powerful before.

Richard Horner, who's lived in Oregon for 52 years, drove from Salem to the coast to get a few pictures.

"I'm down here on the beach because I heard the swells were going to be 30-footers and I didn't want to miss it," he told KOIN 6 News. "I love it."

Drone video captured by Alex Huppenthal shows just how aggressive and violent the coast was Thursday. 

"Today was completely different," Huppenthal said. "It's the biggest surf I've ever seen."

The large surf pushing far up the beach prompted Oregon State Parks to close beach access at several location on the coast, including Cape Kiwanda.

Damage in Lincoln City 

In Lincoln City, beach front business including the Sea Gypsy Hotel, Sand Castle Motel and Kyllos Restaurant were damaged and had to be evacuated. North Lincoln Fire Rescue said damage to those businesses will add up to more than $1 million. 

"Before you know it, I just saw looks of horror on fellow people standing by and we just started running," Kimberly Hitchcock at the Sea Gypsy told KOIN 6 News. "The beach is not supposed to be up here." 

Hitchcock and other employees went door-to-door checking on guests after the hit. One woman was thrown across her room by the force.

"The wife actually got pushed about 10 feet and was slammed into the county," Hitchcock said.

At Kyllos next door, the parking lot was flooded with debris and a gas line snapped.

"We saw a lot of wave action, a lot of the ocean just coming in and hitting the wall of the motel and then splashing up," said Cynthia Keating, who is visiting from California. 

She said she was supposed to be staying on the first floor but the manager moved her to the third floor knowing what was coming. 

The National Weather Service tweeted "Seas of this magnitude only occur every couple of years, on average. High surf conditions will create extreme danger on beaches and coastal jetties through the rest of the day."

Meanwhile in the Cascades, the temperatures will drop when a cold front passes, dumping several inches of snow in the Cascades and down below the passes.




Stay with KOIN 6 News for the latest information throughout the day. Stay with the KOIN 6 Weather Team for the latest on all your weather conditions.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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