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Death Investigation - Two Woman Drown at Port Orford Beach
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext. 247

The body of KATHLEEN MEEKER, a 53-year old Port Orford woman missing and presumed drowned since Friday afternoon, was found Monday morning on a beach about 30 miles south from where she and another woman had gone for a walk. The other woman's body, DARLENE BRYSON, age 78, from Port Orford, was found Friday after washing onto a Port Orford beach. Oregon State Police (OSP) and Port Orford Police Department (POPD) are continuing the investigation into what appear accidental drownings.
On April 26, 2010 at approximately 6:15 a.m. a person walking on Knox Beach north of the mouth of the Rogue River reported finding a body washed onto shore. The body was positively identified as MEEKER. Next of kin were notified by Port Orford police.
The OSP and POPD investigation, and subsequent search into the weekend led by Curry County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue (SAR), started April 23, 2010 at approximately 3:30 p.m. when a report was received that a deceased female was discovered washing ashore on Agate Beach adjacent to Port Orford. The local fire chief identified the woman as DARLENE BRYSON, age 78, who resided close to the beach. Port Orford Police Department contacted her 88-year old husband who said she had gone for a walk on the beach at 10:30 a.m. that morning and had not returned.
OSP and the Curry County District Attorney responded to the scene. OSP learned during the investigation that DARLENE BRYSON had gone to the beach with another woman, 53-year old KATHLEEN MEEKER, from Port Orford. MEEKER's car, purse and belongings were located at the BRYSON residence. A check of her residence, and her mother and daughter's house, revealed she was also missing. It is presumed at this time that she also drowned.

OSP Sergeant Scott Punch said the beach area that both women were walking is hazardous due to contour, deep soft sand, severe drop off where the water meets the beach, and numerous rip tides.
The USCG air station North Bend responded with a helicopter to search of the beach and waters. Curry County Sheriff's Office SAR began a search of the beach area. According to a Curry County Sheriff's Office weekend news release, SAR personnel assisted by Port Orford police, USCG and friends and family of the missing woman searched the beaches and rocky shore surrounding the area where the two women were last seen. Search assets consisted of ground search teams, ATVs, and USCG helicopter as the looked at all accessible beaches and shoreline between Cape Blanco and Humbug Mountain. Saturday's search was discontinued about 2:30 p.m.
OSP and Curry County Sheriff's Office remind everyone to be careful when recreating or working near the ocean shore. Undersheriff Bob Rector recommended the following safety tips for beach visitors:
  • Be aware that surf conditions are unpredictable and even strong swimmers may find themselves unable to cope with local surf conditions.
  • Persons using the beaches should educate themselves about tides and local surf behavior and never turn their back on the surf.
  • Be watchful of the ocean's tides. Some areas may appear accessible but only briefly as incoming tides may trap unexpectedly trap you.
  • Be careful walking your pet on the beach. If your pet is running free and gets caught in the surf, going into the water to try and save your pet may endanger you.