Jamie Stiles is in mourning after her two children were killed by a sudden and powerful wave that swept them out to sea.
On Jan. 11, Stiles experienced an unthinkable tragedy when her husband, Jeremy, and two children, 7-year-old Lola, and 4-year-old William, were caught in a sudden surge of water, known as a sneaker wave, while hiking at Falcon Cove near Cannon Beach, Ore.
According to authorities, police arrived on the scene after receiving calls about three people being in the water and requiring help. An officer managed to pull Lola to shore and locate Jeremy, who was found struggling to get out of the water. Lola was taken to Seaside Hospital and pronounced dead. Jeremy remains in treatment for hypothermia. Despite an extensive search by the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest, William’s body was never recovered.
A GoFundMe account was set up to assist with funeral and medical expenses, as well as to provide grief and trauma counselling. More than $117,000 has now been raised for the family.
Stiles took to Facebook to share a heartbreaking message of thanks to those who have rallied around her.
“Words cannot express how grateful I am for the outpouring of love and support to my family. I am not O.K. right now, but I am in treatment and will reach my new normal soon,” she wrote, including a photo of her children walking barefoot on the beach. “I have read every single comment and message sent our way and feel like each one adds a tiny drop of glue to my completely shattered heart.”
Words cannot express how grateful I am for the outpouring of love and support to my family. I am not ok right now but am...
Stiles added she has been amazed by the kindness shown towards her family, and wishes she could thank each person for their support.
“My babies loved adventure and I know they are off now on the grandest adventure of them all, together,” Stiles said. “Thank you all again for providing light to my darkest days.”
What are sneaker waves?
Sneaker waves are large, unpredictable waves that occur without warning, and can surge further ashore than normal (as far as 45 metres). Although the cause of sneaker waves is unknown, they possess a powerful force that can easily prove deadly.
What sneaker waves can do.
According to the United States National Weather Service, sneaker waves cause more fatalities in the Pacific Northwest than all other weather hazards combined. The sudden appearance and velocity of a sneaker wave can occur in any weather, typically following 10-20 minutes of calm waves or during a lull in larger waves.
They pose a potentially fatal risk as they can dislodge logs and rocks that can crush bystanders and easily pull people into the ocean. The mixture of sand and water in clothes as well as cold temperatures can quickly zap the energy of a person caught in a sneaker wave, making it impossible to keep their head above water.
The U.S Coast Guard issued a warning on the dangers of sneaker waves following the incident.
“Mother Nature is unforgiving,” the warning read. “The beaches along the Pacific Northwest are rugged and remote...If you plan to head to a beach to witness the amazing power of the ocean, be sure to observe from a distance. Waves are unpredictable and erratic. Always have situational awareness.”