After Saving Son, Man Drowns at Black Sands Beach, Community Calls for Memorial Sign

A man drowned off Black Sands beach Sunday around 10:30 a.m., said Cheryl Anthony of the Shelter Cove Volunteer Fire Department (SCVFD.) According to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, he died while attempting to save his son. The boy had fallen into the water. The 13-year-old boy was assisted out by his father but had a broken arm. According to the Sheriff’s Office,

On March 15, 2015 at about 11:25 AM the Coroner’s Office was notified of an accidental drowning that had just occurred in the area of Black Sands Beach, Shelter Cove.

A family on vacation from Gardiner, Montana, was at the beach when a thirteen year old family member slipped on a rock and fell into the ocean. The boy’s father went into the water and was able to push his son out of the water and back onto the beach. Before the father could exit the water, a large wave came in and forced him under water and out of sight.

A short while later the body was seen face down in the water but too far out for any of the witnesses to attempt a rescue.

The Shelter Cove Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene and was able to recover the body out of the water. Resuscitation attempts were made but the subject was eventually declared deceased at the scene.

The deceased subject has been identified as Steven Arthur Bierle, age 44, from Gardiner, Montana.

The boy was stabilized by the SCVFD. He and his brother were transported by ambulance for treatment at the hospital.

“It was a sad morning,” Anthony said.

Some Shelter Cove residents are suggesting that a memorial listing the names of those who have died on the beach might be more effective than the multiple formal signs warning of the dangerous conditions.

Danger sign

Sign above Black Sands beach. [Photos provided by a local resident.]

Cheryl Anthony wrote that deaths and near drownings are a constant worry for her department. She said,

We have begged for years for more signs.   There are several up already, but people ignore them…We get so frustrated.

Last week I got two calls…telling about people way out on the rocks, fishing and getting splashed with waves.

I went down after they had been already warned by Coffee Shop personnel, and they just kept fishing and said ” yea–we know… .” A while later, one of our board members saw them get covered with a wave , and they finally climbed up and left.  They were lucky.

After helping with the body recovery and assisting the grieving family, Anthony said that the members of the Shelter Cove Volunteer Fire Department continued with already scheduled classes for the community of CPR. She wrote Monday,

When this was over, we had a scheduled CPR class for the community, which we were able pull off even though everyone was so emotionally exhausted.

We are thankful that the boys are alive, but what sticks in my mind is that today, two little boys are waking up without their Dad. That is a real tragedy.

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