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Feb-24-2008 13:27printcomments

Two Salem Men Lost in Boat Capsizing at Clatsop Spit

The incident ultimately left one Salem man dead, one Newberg man dead, and a second man from Salem missing.


File photo
Courtesy: U.S. Coast Guard

(HAMMOND, Ore.) - A report of a capsized 16-foot aluminum vessel at Clatsop Spit near Hammond, Oregon, drew the response of U.S. Coast Guard rescue crews Saturday morning, who arrived on the scene at 10:45 AM.

The incident ultimately left one Salem man dead, one Newberg man dead, and a second man from Salem missing.

Arriving crews say they located the overturned pleasure craft capsized with no persons visible in the area. Weather conditions on scene were four knot winds and 10 mile visibility.

To increase the number of searchers, the Coast Guard Group at Astoria launched an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to respond to the vessel. Their station at Cape Disappointment also launched a 25-foot response boat crew to assist, along with a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew that was diverted from training.

A Good Samaritan reported that a body had washed ashore near buoy 20 in Clatsop Spit. Clatsop County Sheriff's Department confirmed that the individual washed ashore was deceased and not wearing a lifejacket.

The Clatsop County Sheriff's Department contacted the family of the deceased to determine how many persons were onboard the vessel, ultimately learning that were three people. They were identified as 54-year old James Nibler of Salem, 41-year old Lawrence Nibler of Salem, and 52-year old Curtis Heuer of Newberg.

The boat crews towed the 16-foot pleasure craft to Hammond Marina to right it and search the boat's interior. A Coast Guard spokesperson says that while righting the vessel to determine if anyone was inside, and to gather identification markings, the motor lifeboat crew discovered a second deceased person.

The search for a third man was suspended at 5:55 PM Saturday pending any further developments. The Coast Guard said, "The decision to suspend the search was only made after both air and surface rescue crews conducted an extensive six hour search over approximately 276 miles, from east of the Astoria-Megler Bridge to Hammond, without any signs of the missing man."

They say expected survivability was approximately four hours.

The missing man, 41-year old Lawrence Nibler of Salem, brother of James Nibler, was last seen wearing black rain pants with a black raincoat. was last seen wearing black rain pants with a black raincoat and was one of three men aboard the vessel that was discovered capsized around 10:45 AM.

In the case of the two drowned men who were recovered, both men were not wearing lifejackets.

The Coast Guard reminds boaters that lifejackets greatly increase the chance of survival during a maritime accident. Boaters should be wearing their lifejacket at all times while they're on the water because conditions and situations can change rapidly.




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Mike July 27, 2009 10:48 pm (Pacific time)

I'm sorry for your loss. I am sure your father would be proud to hear you tell others that he was a great man. I often wonder if my kids think I have been a decent parent. Or a great man. Anyone can be a father. But to be a "great man" in the eyes of your children is the kind of accomplishment that makes life worth living.


Natalie Nibler February 26, 2008 12:42 am (Pacific time)

My dad was a great man and will be sorely missed. I would like to correct a few errors. My dad was 64, and from Newberg. My mom told reporters that he was wearing a black rain coat but I found my dads gortex camo jacket and overalls missing, and found the rain gear. All three men were from Newberg. They loved being out in the water. Please pray my dads body will be found. Thanks from the entire family

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