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Suicidal man rescued from surf at Sunset Beach

A Coast Guard helicopter responds by air while three deputies attempt to coax a suicidal man out of the surf. (Clatsop County Sheriff's Department)
Friday, July 6, 2018

A man attempting to commit suicide was rescued from the surf at Sunset Beach on June 21.

The man, who was not named, had tied a bag full of weights around his body, the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office reported.

When deputies arrived, they tried to contact him, but he was too far out and couldn’t hear them. Senior Deputy Robert Townsend offered to swim after the man, but instead the Coast Guard was dispatched.

“Detective Walker and Deputy Libertad eventually made voice contact with the subject and created enough of a rapport to nearly talk the subject out of the water,” Sheriff Tom Bergin wrote in a media release. “Even though they were ultimately unsuccessful in getting the subject to come out of the water, they were successful in removing the bag full of weights the subject had around his body.”

The despondent subject resisted, turned and walked back into the surf, in an apparent attempt to drown himself, according to Bergin. A short time later, the Coast Guard helicopter arrived to assist.

“The Coast Guard pilots showed incredible skill by hovering the helo and using the helicopter rotor wash to dissuade the subject from going further into the ocean,” Bergin wrote. “The air crew then dropped a rescue swimmer, who also kept the subject from walking farther out.”

Detective John Walker walked out into the surf, putting himself at risk, to assist the rescue swimmer in talking the man into walking back to safety, Bergin wrote.

When the man realized deputies were not going to let him complete his act of suicide, he surrendered. 

Once the man was on the beach, Deputy Jodi Libertad did an excellent job of continued de-escalation and eventually the subject volunteered to go to the hospital for a mental evaluation, according to Bergin.

No force was necessary.

“I am extremely proud of their selfless courage and commitment to the safety of others no matter who they are or what issues they may have,” Bergin wrote of his deputies.

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