YACHATS, Ore. — On Saturday, friends and family honored two local teens who lost their lives to a sneaker wave just over two years ago. After that tragic drowning, parents and local community members joined forces and formed a committee to create an educational coastal safety marker to raise awareness about the dangers along the coast. On Saturday, they celebrated the culmination of all their hard work in memory of the two young boys, they said, were taken from this world much too soon.
Chris Havel with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said, “It’s rare, but it does happen that people die on the Oregon coast. It’s a wild place. Over the last five years, 22 people have lost their lives.”
Two of those people, Jack Harnsongkram and Conor Ausland, were the ones remembered that day. Both boys were students at South Eugene High School when it happened. Though two years have passed, the healing process has been a long one.
Coastal Safety Marker Committee Member Curt Wilson said, “I think for a lot of us that healing process led to the need to do something, to respond to this event, but we didn’t know exactly what to do. But the idea of the response was there needs to be a way to identify the dangers of the coast.” Wilson said it was that need that started the whole project.
While it is meant to serve the greater good, the marker means much more to those who helped make it possible.
“Conor’s dad Greg said something to me recently that captured the meaning of this marker, ‘What a blessing we are imparting onto other unsuspecting parents,’” said Jack Harnsongkram’s mother Sarah Harnsongkram.
“I want to save other families from the heavy grief that comes when we experience the unexpected death of a dear one,” said Sarah Harnsongkram.
And it was just about everyone’s hope this new marker and work of art would do just that.
While the coastal safety marker project is now complete, the committee said the work it’s doing is not and they are still accepting donations to put together an educational campaign.