National News

Two women digging for clams die in separate incidents

Posted February 6, 2018 12:12 p.m. EST

— Two women out digging for clams lost their lives Friday night in separate incidents on the southwest Washington coast.

Deputies were called to a report of a woman lost in the surf near the Oysterville beach approach at 8:57 p.m. Friday.

Deputies said Jerilynn Reinke, 70, of Ocean Park, Washington, was out clamming with her spouse when they got separated.

The Pacific County Sheriff's Office said deputies, along with the South Pacific County Technical Rescue (Surf Rescue), responded to try and find the woman

A responding U.S. Coast Guard helicopter hit a bird and was unable to help in the search, according ot the sheriff's office.

Deputies said the search was further hampered due to rough surf and inclement weather conditions, however, the Coast Guard was later able to dispatch a ground search crew to the area to help in the efforts.

Four minutes after the call near Ocean Park came in, deputies were called to a report of a missing woman in the surf near Warrenton Cannery Road.

Deputies said Sharon Leseman, 61, of Toledo, Washington, was digging for clams with her husband when the two were separated earlier in the evening.

Rescue crews from several agencies were immediately dispatched to the scene and began searching the area.

Deputies Reinke's body was found around 5 p.m. Saturday, near Westport, Washington in Grays Harbor County. The body of Leseman was located between the Cranberry and Midway beach approaches in Pacific County at approximately 5:38 a.m. Saturday.

Deputies add these incidents serve as a tragic reminder to be vigilant of the powerful surf and waves that are often present on our ocean beaches. Always stay close to other clammers, bring a flashlight or lantern, a waterproof cell phone, and never turn your back on the surf as "sneaker waves" can appear at any time.