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Junction City woman rescued Sunday from ocean at Bob Creek would like to thank the hero who saved her

A woman sits at a table and a man stands over her with his hand around her shoulder
Ilka Sankari
Corinne and Mike McElroy of Junction City would like to find the man who saved her life after she was swept out to sea Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024 by a sneaker wave at Bob Creek. Corinne is still covered in scrapes and bruises from her ordeal.

This story was originally published on YachatsNews.com and is used with permission.

Corinne McElroy knows one of the men who rescued her from the ocean Sunday. He’s Mike, her husband of 45 years.

Now she’s looking for the other one.

“I think his name is Andrew,” McElroy told YachatsNews on Wednesday. “I would love to find him just to tell him ‘Thank you for saving my life’.”

Corinne, 65, and Mike McElroy, 66, live in Junction City. They were finishing up a weekend getaway to Florence and decided to drive north to Bob Creek to take a walk and possibly find some agates at the popular rockhounding spot. They arrived a little after 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18.

They were on the rocky shoreline just south of the parking lot when a sneaker wave knocked Corrine McElroy down.

“It came up so fast. I was knocked off my feet and went under water,” McElroy said. “I feel pretty stupid about it now, honestly. I should know better than that.”

The wave dragged her out about 30 feet. She turned to face the ocean and another wave hit her.

“It was so weird,” she said. “It was very cold. Everything slowed down.”

Others on the beach, including her husband, raced along the shore to try to reach her. Mike McElroy was slipping and falling and waves knocked him down several times.

A bent over man stands on the shoreline near a group of rescue personnel carrying a stretcher
Geoffrey Louis Koch
Mike McElroy, center, bends over with exhaustion as firefighter/paramedics from Yachats and Waldport take his wife to an ambulance in the parking lot at Bob Creek, 12 miles south of Yachats on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024.

“Surreal” scene

Geoffrey Koch and Krista Chapman of Tennessee are spending five weeks exploring the Oregon coast and pulled into the Bob Creek parking lot just as McElroy was swept out.

“It was so surreal,” Koch said Wednesday. “I looked up and happened to see Corinne falling into the water. Then I saw her head bobbing up and down. And then I kind of lose sight of her … she got pulled way out there.”

There is no cell phone service in the area, so Chapman ran to a house across U.S. Highway 101 to call 911.

Koch said Mike McElroy was also nearly swept away.

“In the commotion of all this, he almost drowned. We thought two people might be lost,” he said. “He was determined to go out and get her.”

A woman nearby with a dog had what Koch described as “an extraordinary long” leash. She gave it to the man Corinne McElroy believes is named Andrew. By that time, several waves had pushed McElroy back through a rocky ledge and closer to shore.

Andrew got the leash, waded onto the ledge and threw the leash toward McElroy.

She missed it.

“He told me ‘You’ve got to catch this or you’re going to die’,” McElroy. “My legs had stopped working. I was shutting down.”

She caught the second throw and Andrew began pulling her toward shore. Once she reached him, Andrew helped fasten the leash under her armpits. Then Mike McElroy, Andrew and a third man pulled her to shore and up the bank.

A South Lincoln Ambulance with Yachats firefighter/paramedics Hanna Rocco and Casey Wittmeier arrived, followed by volunteer Max Stephens.

“She was just fabulous,” McElroy said of Rocco. “She kept working on me, talking to me and telling me to hang on.”

The ambulance took her to Peace Harbor Medical Center in Florence where she was treated for scrapes, bumps and bruises and released. A leadership coach with her own business, McElroy has been recovering at home since.

But Corinne and Mike McElroy would like the find the stranger she believes is named Andrew to thank him. Judging from the man’s response, Koch and Chapman believe he must have had some kind of emergency training.

“His instincts were just right,” Koch told YachatsNews.

“He talked to me. He held me. His own life was in danger,” McElroy said. “My husband would like to thank him also. He pulled him out of the water too.

“I know I looked at his face, but I don’t know what he looks like or who he is,” McElroy said. “There were so many heroes on this.”

Quinton Smith founded YachatsNews in 2019 after a 40-year career as a reporter and editor for United Press International and three Oregon newspapers. He worked in various editing positions at The Oregonian from 1984 to 2008 where he led a reporting team that won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News.