On July 4, 2015 at 10:40am the Oregon State Police-Newport Office was dispatched to a capsized boat in the Pacific Ocean just south of South Beach State Park. The 21 foot Hewes boat was being operated by Robert Baker, age 58, of Salem. Baker and his three passengers had been crabbing in Yaquina Bay and left the bay to fish in the ocean. Not far into the ocean, the boat was struck by a “sneaker wave” and it capsized. Two passengers were able to put life jackets on after it capsized. Upon the US Coast Guard arriving on scene, Lowell Leather, age 81, of Salem, was pronounced deceased.
The US Coast Guard rescued Robert Baker, Allen Baker, age 55, of Salem, and Donita Free, age 50, of Salem. The three survivors were transported to Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport with minor injuries. The OSP Newport Office was assisted by US Coast Guard, Newport Fire and Rescue, Pac-West Ambulance, Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office, Lincoln County Medical Examiner, and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, and OSP-Salem.