Deadliest spot on Oregon Coast: California man dies after fall at Cape Kiwanda
PACIFIC CITY — A 25-year-old California man died at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area on Saturday after falling from a rocky bluff and getting swept into the ocean, marking the eighth fatal accident at the popular site since 2009.
Henry Minh Hoang of West Covina was hiking beyond a safety fence in an area known as the punchbowl when he slipped and fell approximately 20 feet to the water’s edge, Oregon State Police said in a news release.
“The victim was reportedly knocked unconscious from the fall and was swept into the ocean by the waves,” police said. “Witnesses lost sight of the victim and the rescue operation later transitioned into a likely recovery operation.”
On Sunday, Hoang was located deceased on the shoreline, at the bottom of a nearby cliff, officials said.
Deadliest spot on Oregon Coast
Cape Kiwanda has been the deadliest spot on the Oregon Coast for many years.
Seven people — mostly teenagers — died after falling or being trapped on the park’s unstable sandstone cliffs between 2009 and 2016.
Historically, at least 11 people died at the cape from 1960 to 1972, and multiple fatalities took place in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s, according to previous reporting by the Statesman Journal.
The park’s sandstone cliffs make it a particularly unstable location where waves and loose rock have often led to falls.
Safety efforts attempted
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department officials have tried various strategies to keep people from the Cape’s most dangerous areas, including different versions of a safety fence.
However, the fence was frequently ignored during the spate of deaths from 2014 to 2016.
More:Cape Kiwanda opens new fenced trail to better views, hoping to limit deaths, accidents
Parks officials at one point posted a ranger to dissuade people from crossing the fence. In May 2021, they tweaked the design of a fence, allowing people to get some of the better views while still attempting to fence off areas such as the “punchbowl,” which has been a frequent site of tragic accidents.
The Cape became nationally famous in 2016 when a group of vandals knocked down a famous rock formation often known as the Duckbill or Pedestal rock. Despite an investigation, the vandals were never caught.
More:A death trap and a nuclear power plant: The rise of the Oregon Coast's deadliest place
Zach Urness has been an outdoors reporter in Oregon for 15 years and is host of the Explore Oregon Podcast. To support his work, subscribe to the Statesman Journal. Urness is the author of “Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon” and “Hiking Southern Oregon.” He can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.