PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Teachers, parents and friends gathered at Vestal School in Portland Monday night to remember Lily Markwell, the 11-year-old who died Friday after being swept away by a rip current near Haystack Rock the day before.
That’s the same school where 7-year-old Lola Stiles went to school. She and her 4-year-old brother William were swept away by a sneaker wave at Cape Falcon in January 2020.
The Cannon Beach Fire District and Seaside Fire’s Surf and Rescue Team responded to a call around 1:30 p.m. on June 17 after she was swept by the rip tide.
A rescue swimmer entered the water and began searching. Jet skis and a helicopter crew arrived shortly after to assist and together they located Lily.
Kim Strait said she and her family were at Cannon Beach and witnessed the crews trying to rescue Lily.
“Life Flight came and we knew it was going to be bad and somebody said it was a little girl,” Strait told KOIN 6 News. “Once the helicopter landed on the beach it was just devastating because I thought, wow, this doesn’t look very promising.”
Shauna White, a rescue swimmer with Cannon Beach Fire, said the most dangerous time for rip currents is low tide — and that’s what happened to Lily.
“They were out there right by the rock, it sounds like, and I don’t think they were very deep. They just got caught at that rip at low tide and they just got pulled out,” White said.
She said if you want to get in the ocean, it’s best to only go as deep as your shins. People should research rip currents and check the tides during your trip to the beach.
“I would just say whether it’s high tide or low tide just be cautious,” White said. “Common sense isn’t common sense unless you have the knowledge. Just a little bit of research, look at the tide tables.”
Cannon Beach lifeguards didn’t officially start summer duty until Saturday — 2 days after Lily got swept away.
According to her obituary, “Lily was a spirited, beautiful girl.” She enjoyed reading, rock climbing, swimming, biking, and playing with her seven siblings.
The obituary said the family is accepting donations through a GoFundMe to help cover medical expenses, the flight to the hospital, and funeral costs.