A California man is presumed dead after he tried to jump across a perilous water passage known as Devil’s Church on the Oregon coast last week, authorities said.
Steve Allen, 67, of Walnut Creek, Calif., tried to leap across the narrow boiling inlet just off Highway 101 south of Yachats around 2 p.m. Thursday and fell into the ocean, Oregon State Police said in a statement.
“Fellow visitors attempted to rescue Allen but were unable to retrieve him from the water,” the statement said. “Allen was last observed by rescue agencies unresponsive prior to losing sight of him.”
Witness Andy Nelson, of Portland, was nearby with his son Evan, a student at Oregon State University when he saw Allen’s tragic attempt to straddle the 3- to 4-foot wide section of the cove, he told Yachats News.
“It looks like you can jump across, but the other side is steep and slick,” Nelson said. “He just missed his footing and fell back into the water.”
The father and son, joined by five or six other bystanders, put together a line of belts, a dog leash and two shirts and dropped it 15 feet into the cove, according to the report.
Allen managed to cling to the life ring for 10 to 15 minutes, but he appeared to have suffered a “pretty big” head injury, Nelson said.
“It was cold … he was struggling,” Nelson said. “And then it became hard for him to hold on. Then he let go. It was too late.”
Multiple responding agencies, including the US Coast Guard, suspended their search for Allen at about 6:40 p.m. that evening, and he is presumed to be dead.
Devil’s Churn, located in the Siuslaw National Forest, emerged over thousands of years as wave action carved into the basalt shoreline, initially forming a deep-sea cave whose roof later collapsed.