Mom of 2 Oregon children swept into ocean thanks supporters

In this Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020 photo, a Coast Guard helicopter continues to search for a missing boy near Falcon Cove Beach in Clastop county, Ore. A 7-year-old girl is dead and her 4-year-old brother is missing after they and their father were swept into the ocean on the Oregon coast amid a high-surf warning. The father was holding the two children when a wave swept all three into the water Saturday, Jan. 11 in the Falcon Cove area, near the small coastal community of Cannon Beach, authorities said.

A community center in Manzanita will hold a public vigil Wednesday night for the two children who were swept out to sea in the nearby Falcon Cove community.

Lola Stiles, 7, died Saturday, and her brother, William, 4, is still missing. Their father, Jeremy Stiles, 47, was recovering from hypothermia at Seaside Hospital, the family said in a statement Monday. They were walking on an off-beach trail when they were hit by a “sneaker wave,” family said.

“We are heartbroken, we are truly heartbroken,” said Claudia Johnson, an officiant who will lead Wednesday’s vigil. Though the Stiles family was not from the close -knit coastal community, the area was grieving.

“I went over to the (Manzanita) Deli, and people were standing in there crying,” Johnson said. “This could have been anybody. These were children.”

Johnson has lived on the Oregon Coast since the 1970s. She’s officiated local funerals and helped lead a series of talks at the Hoffman Center for the Arts on death and dying.

“The word got out very quickly that this had happened,” Johnson said. “We have friends that live in Falcon Cove, so they’re mourning in a particular, local kind of way. People are reaching out, asking what people know and what are we going to do?

“Well there’s nothing we can do, except be together.”

Attendees are asked to use battery lit candles, flashlights or cell phones.

“Let us open our hearts together to recognize the loss of young lives, to mourn, and to acknowledge, through our compassion, the sorrows of the family and all of us affected by this tragedy,” reads an announcement for the event.

Within an hour of the vigil announcement, Johnson said she’d gotten four calls about it.

“Our people need a place to acknowledge what happened and grieve,” she said. “We’re all in it together. I don’t know how many people will show up to this, but I bet it’s going to fill the Hoffman Center.”

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