2 women die while digging for clams on Washington beaches

Two women died digging for clams along the Washington coast Friday in separate incidents that occurred after they were caught in rough surf, officials said.

The Pacific County Sheriff's Office wrote on Facebook the women were reported missing around 9 p.m., roughly four minutes apart, from two beaches in Pacific County, located in the southwest part of the state.

"These incidents serve as a tragic reminder that one must always be vigilant of the powerful surf and waves that are often present on our ocean beaches," Sheriff Scott Johnson said. "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."

The first 911 call came in about 8:57 p.m. reporting a 70-year-old woman was lost in the surf while digging clams on the Oysterville beach north of Ocean Park on the Long Beach Peninsula, the sheriff's office said. A search was hampered "due to rough surf and inclement weather conditions," but officials from the Coast Guard were eventually able to send a team to the scene.


Her body was found around 5 p.m. Saturday in the town of  Westport in neighboring Grays Harbor County.

Officials said in the second case, a 61-year-old woman from Toledo was reported missing at 9:01 p.m. in the surf near the mouth of the Willapa Bay. The woman had been digging for clams with her husband when they became separated. Rescue personnel from several agencies were immediately dispatched to the scene and began scouring the area. Her body was found around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday in Pacific County, the sheriff's office said.