'In the process of saving her, the log rolled over him'

'In the process of saving her, the log rolled over him'

FLORENCE, Ore. - Sean Barrett stands in the sand facing the ocean near the log that claimed the life of a Eugene man.

"The water line may be right here," the Siuslaw Fire Department fire marshall said, pointing toward the surf. "Next thing you know, it's 100 feet passed you."

That's what happens on the Oregon Coast.

On Easter, a fun family beach day ended in tragedy when 58-year-old Ming Hsieh was killed when a log he was sitting near rolled over him and crushed him.

"Unfortunately, no one was watching the water," Barrett said. "The water came up, moved the log, pushed him and his daughter out of the way, and knocked another family member off the log."

Barrett said Hsieh went back to rescue the woman. "In the process of saving her, the log rolled over him. He actually is credited with saving her life."

Working for Siuslaw Fire for more than 20-years, Barrett said this isn't the first incident like this that he's seen.

He said the unfortunate thing is that this could have been prevented.

Summer is one of the most popular times of the year to visit the Oregon Coast, and Barrett wants to remind people about the hazards on the beach.

"All of these logs came from somewhere" Barrett said. "The water has been up here. It can get up here again, and it will get up here again."

Although the water may be hundreds of feet away, "sneaker waves" often catch people off-guard.

Barrett says he believes that's what happened on Sunday.

Sneaker waves occur during an incoming tidal switch, where a series of fast-moving waves will roll-up the beach.

"Two inches of water can move a 2-ton log," Barrett said. "It can move a 4,000 pound log."

Barrett pointed at the jetty, saying that's where many of the calls for help come from.

"See those logs. We had waves 30 feet high to bring that wood up there. Anytime a big one can come, and if you're out there," Barrett said. "You're in the water."

The most important thing to remember is to always be aware of your surroundings.

"The ocean looks fairly calm today compared to previous days this week, but it can come up and come from behind. Always keep an eye on the water," Barrett said.

As beautiful as the tree stumps and logs are on the beach, Barrett said anywhere where it's flat and water has been recently, don't go on those logs.

One last tip: check the weather conditions ahead of time, and always check when high and low tides are.

"There are no lifeguards here. This is on your own, and you have to protect yourself out here," he said. "It's so beautiful to be out here, but you got to watch out."