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Deadly wave swamps charter.

Byline: Winston Ross The Register-Guard

GARIBALDI - At least nine people died Saturday after an overpowering wave capsized their charter fishing boat, knocking it into the raging surf and spilling its passengers into the frigid water off the northern Oregon Coast.

Their bodies washed ashore as bystanders and others waded into the water off Barview Jetty County Park to pull survivors to safety.

Two of the 19 people on board the 32-foot Taki Tooo were still missing late Saturday. The U.S. Coast Guard called off the search at 9 p.m., but said it would resume at first light today. A sheriff's official said the two were presumed dead.

Eight people - a female and seven males ages 13 to 48 - survived and were treated at Tillamook County Hospital for hypothermia. Six were released by mid-day and two remained hospitalized in good condition.

The boat's captain, Douglas Davis of Garibaldi, was killed in the accident, a sheriff's official confirmed.

"He was a very friendly guy," said Neil Conan, in charge of harvest management for the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. "In fisheries management, you don't always agree with everybody. But Doug could disagree with you, he'd let you disagree with him and you still felt like you were friends."

The vessel carried Davis, another local crew member and passengers from Oregon, Washington and several other states.

The Taki Tooo went down shortly after leaving the Garibaldi Marina when a big wave slammed into it broadside just outside the entrance to Tillamook Bay, about 60 miles west of Portland and known for its swirling currents and high waves.

The accident occurred shortly after 7 a.m. about 200 yards off shore in waters with 10- to 15-foot waves.

The Coast Guard restricted use of the Tillamook Bay Bar, where the bay meets the Pacific Ocean, at daybreak because of the high waves, Cmdr. Karl Moore said.

The restrictions banned recreational boats and uninspected commercial vessels from crossing the dangerous bar, Moore said. But the Taki Tooo, with a 22-person capacity, had passed safety inspections and was allowed to head out in search of rockfish, he said.

"We can't control the commercial vessels," Moore said. Similar conditions are present "180 days a year," he said. "They need to make a living. They are licensed professionals."

Mick Buell saw the wave hit the boat and rushed to the beach. He runs Garibaldi Charters, the boat's owner. His daughter was among those aboard who survived.

In the minutes that followed the accident, the boat rolled around in the waves before righting itself and washing up on shore, north of the jetty leading from the bay.

Most of the passengers followed as dozens of bystanders ran to the scene to perform CPR and offer blankets, food and water. The water was 52 degrees - and at that temperature, the longest anyone could likely survive in that part of the ocean would be four to eight hours, a Coast Guard official said.

The Coast Guard also sent two motor boats, three helicopters and a dive team to the area.

Tillamook County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Fournier credited passersby and volunteers with saving the lives of some of the passengers.

Most of those on board weren't wearing life jackets when they went out, Fournier said. Some managed to grab them when the boat capsized, he said.

"This is the perfect example of why folks ought to wear a personal flotation device," Coast Guard Cmdr. Patrick Brennan said. "Generally, the Coast Guard and other rescuers can get to the scene of an accident fairly quickly. If folks don't have flotation on, they only have 20 minutes or so that they can function in the water before they succumb to hypothermia."

One body was brought to the Tillamook Coast Guard station; by midmorning, the other eight lay on the beach at the county park.

Some of the survivors reached shore after swimming hundreds of yards, while firefighters found others bobbing in the shallow surf, Garibaldi Fire Chief Mike Sheldon said.

``There were people floating around in the water and they were on the beach. Some of our personnel went in (the ocean) after them,'' Sheldon said.

Coast Guard Master Chief Lars Kent said other people on the beach, including the pastor of a local church, also helped pull people from the water.

Earl Werneke Jr., 29, of Rockaway, said he brought out three bodies and one young boy who was alive. ``There was one I couldn't get to, I think he's one of the missing,'' he said.

The Tillamook bar is notorious among fishermen up and down the coast for being dangerous. And as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers money for dredging the bar has dried up in recent years, the surf has grown more treacherous, local fishermen say. Shallow water causes the waves to break sooner.

"Several small ports have been excluded from the Army Corps of Engineers' dredging budget," said Terry Thompson, a Lincoln County commissioner and commercial fisherman. "It's a big deal.

"The Newport, Columbia River and Coos Bay bars are maintained, and they're preferable. The way they determine who's going to get dredged is the amount of tonnage that goes over a channel. They've never concerned themselves with the amount of people that go over a channel."

Corps officials couldn't be reached Saturday afternoon for comment.

As the sun went down over the still-turbulent ocean, the wrecked Taki Tooo lay beached at Barview Park, the port-side railing ripped away, the windows blown out, pieces of the ceiling and walls hanging in the cabin, the flying bridge completely gone. A couple of life jackets remained tethered to the starboard side.

People walked by the scene on the beach. Some were clearly closer to the tragedy than others, stopping for long, tearful embraces.

Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board had arrived and will decide what to do with the vessel. They await a team of 11 inspectors who will try to determine whether equipment failure, weather or human error caused the accident.

They'll interview survivors, ask about life jackets and inspect the boat.

"It's a tragic accident with so many families involved," said Fournier, who spent much of his day notifying relatives of those who died. "The fishing community in Garibaldi is tight-knit."


Missing: Barry Sundberg of Cheney, Wash., and Tim Albus of Madras.

Survivors: Tyler Bohnet of Canby; Mark, David and Chris Hamlett of Portland; Brian Loil of Vancouver, Wash.; Richard Forsman of Vancouver, Wash.; Dale Brown of Portland and Mick Buell's daughter, Tamara Buell of Cloverdale.

Dead: Dennis Tipton and Kathy Corley, both of Ukiah; Steve Albus of Ephrata, Wash.; Sigmud Bohnet, from Florida; Edward Loil of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Larry Frick of Spokane, Wash.; Terry Galloway of Portland; Richard Hidalgo of Green Bay, Wis., and the boat's captain, Doug Davis of Garibaldi.

The Associated Press and The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report


Rescuers stand on Twin Rocks Beach as the charter boat Taki Tooo, which capsized at the Tillamook Bay, drowning nine in Garibaldi on Saturday, is washed up in the incoming tide. The Associated Press Family members of people aboard the fishing boat walk along the beach in Garibaldi on Saturday.
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Title Annotation:Victims wash ashore after a recreational fishing boat with 19 aboard capsizes off Garibaldi; Accidents
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 15, 2003
Previous Article:Quinney opens with victory.

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