DECEPTION PASS STATE PARK – The search was suspended Saturday for a 12-year-old boy who fell 150 feet, from a cliff to the beach, and was swept away by the outgoing tide, a Coast Guard spokesman said.
The boy had been hiking with friends Friday night when he slipped from the cliff around 7 p.m., the Coast Guard said in a statement. Deception Pass separates Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island.
The Skagit County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Coast Guard about 20 minutes later when the boy was seen floating in the water. Sheriff’s officers, fire crews and a Coast Guard helicopter and utility boat from Port Angeles searched the coastline without success until darkness fell Friday.
A Coast Guard helicopter resumed searching around 6 a.m. Saturday, but at 7:41 a.m. officials “suspended the search pending further developments,” the statement said.
The boy’s name was not released.
Petty Officer Jeff Pollinger said there had been an increase in fatalities on the Oregon and Washington coasts over the past year, with seven deaths handled by the Coast Guard in 2005.
The agency is preparing a beach safety public information campaign with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Lifesaving Association and local emergency responders along the coast, Pollinger said.
Risks include “sneaker waves” that can knock down beach walkers and rip currents that can pull swimmers and people disoriented by sneaker waves out to sea, Pollinger said.