There were two incidents related to the coastal razor clam digs this past weekend including one that ended up tragically with a Lynnwood man drowning.
The Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office and state Fish and Wildlife were called Sunday (April 14) after an angler was reported missing in the water.
“Both myself and another officer, plus two park rangers were right there (at the approach to Ocean City) when it happened, but when the report went out over the radio it first put the incident at Moclips so we had mobilized officers up there,” said Sgt. Matt Nixon with the state Fish and Wildlife enforcement division.
“We later found that was inaccurate as the person who reported it was from (Wyoming or Montana) and was unfamiliar with the area,” Nixon said. “That was when we found out it was right at our location.”
Nixon and his colleagues saw the 74-year-old man rolling in the surf, and brought him up to high ground where they performed CPR.
“He was in cardiac arrest and wasn’t breathing so we used a defibrillator and still detected no rhythm,” Nixon said. “Then the (Grays Harbor Fire and Rescue paramedics) arrived and got some kind of rhythms, but was later pronounced dead at the hospital.”
Nixon says the man had been in the water for seven to 10 minutes.
Many are lured to the coast this time of the year for the popular razor clam dig and will then go surf fishing for abundant schools of perch.
“It is not uncommon for us to get calls of people in trouble on the surf during the spring and summer,” Nixon said. “It is such a tragic deal for someone to wake up in the morning and then for this to happen.”
“It can be dangerous out there and if the bottom shifts and an unexpected wave comes along you can easily disappear,” Nixon said. “I think wearing an inflatable vest is the way to go not matter how cumbersome it might be.”
“I’ve been at the harbor for 10 years now, but this is the first time I’ve seen a person die from surf fishing although I’m sure it has happened and I’m just not aware about it,” Nixon said.
In other related news, a helicopter headed to coast for the razor clam digs crashed at Hogan’s Airport in Ocean Shores on Friday (April 12).
The 76-year-old man and 51-year-old woman from Forest Grove, Oregon were headed to Ocean Shores to dig razor clams with relatives, but mechanical issues caused them to crash while attempting to land.
The two managed to safely walk away from the incident, but were later transported to the Grays Harbor Community Hospital.