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Doctor was on jetty for bird count as wave hit

Bird-watchers were conducting annual survey

Onik Arian was taking advantage of a break in the storm to go out on the Crescent City jetty and spot a few birds Sunday.

That’s when a wave swept the local emergency room physician off the concrete breakwater into the rocks below, where he died of blunt force head trauma.

An avid bird-watcher for many years, Arian was taking part in the National Audubon Society’s annual holiday bird count early Sunday.

Alan Barron, a local ornithologist and friend of Arian’s, spoke to him shortly before he died.

“He called about 20 minutes before it happened telling me about the break in the weather,” Barron said.

“He was happy. He was telling me about the birds he had seen and how he was going to get out of his car and do some more.”

In from the cold

25 people use shelter on 1st night

Richard Keehn, 61, relaxes at the fairgrounds shelter: ‘I would have frozen if this hadn’t been here.’ The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
As Crescent City woke to frozen puddles and frost-covered grass, 25 people who otherwise would have slept outside Monday night got up from cots in a warm room to a pancake breakfast.

With a series of winter storms bringing cold air extreme enough to kill a local woman, Our Daily Bread Ministries took money earmarked for its annual Christmas party and rented the arts and crafts building at Del Norte County Fairgrounds for the rest of December for $1,000.

“We had the Christmas fund, and after praying about doing something at the fairgrounds we decided to try and rent the building,” said Our Daily Bread director Mike Justice. “It means no Christmas dinner or gifts this Christmas, but with the cold weather this is much more important.”

The money was well spent, judging by the reactions of people who enjoyed warm beds, showers, dinner Monday night and breakfast Tuesday morning when they could have been out in the elements.

Husband, wife arrested with drugs, cash

Nearly $4,600 in cash and 2.5 ounces of methamphetamine were confiscated during a pull-over last week, resulting in the arrest of a Brookings man and a Crescent City woman.

The husband and wife were arrested Friday by Del Norte and Curry County officers working together to serve a warrant on the man for drug sales in Oregon.

“The man had outstanding warrants out of Brookings,” said Del Norte County sheriff’s Deputy Joe Garcia.

Luis Jaramillo Cerros, 32, of Brookings, and Jesusita Cerros, 25, of Crescent City, were arrested on suspicion of possession of controlled substances for sale and transportation of controlled substances in order to sell. Jesusita Cerros is also suspected of  possession of controlled substance paraphernalia and her husband is also suspected of receiving known stolen property, according to the Del Norte County Jail.

Helicopter makes emergency landing

A smell of something burning caused a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter to make an emergency landing at Jack McNamara Field on Monday.
The odor resembled that of singed electronics, according to Lt. Jg Russ Merrick, the public information officer for the Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay. After crew members detected the smell, he said they landed in Del Norte County to check out the problem, and then flew back without incident.
“If anything’s abnormal with a helicopter you want to be extremely cautious,” Merrick said.

Overnight shelter set up at fairgrounds

Woman, 47, found dead during frigid weather

A Crescent City women may have succumbed to wet, frigid weather while sleeping near a homeless camp near Ray’s Foods on U.S. Highway 101 early Saturday, authorities said.
The body of Rosemary Thomas, 47, was found at about 9:30 a.m. “by somebody that was walking on the trail and called it in,” said Crescent City Police Chief Doug Plack.
“When they got there she wasn’t breathing,” said Del Norte County Sheriff’s Commander Bill Steven.
Steven said the cause of death had not been determined, but authorities suspected “exposure to the elements.”
“We do believe that the weather events are a strong factor in this—there’s also a strong factor of alcohol being involved as well,” Plack said.
The chief said the woman was found by a transient “that resides there.”
Plack said Thomas “has a local address, but sometimes people just choose to live that life.” He added, “she did have a haven to escape to.”
Plack said his officers “have had numerous contacts with her before in that area.”

ER physician had joined Sutter Coast last summer

If it had been someone else, Onik Arian might have been the one attempting to save a life.
Arian, who was swept off the jetty near Battery Point Lighthouse on Sunday morning, was an emergency room physician at Sutter Coast Hospital.
The 61-year-old had recently retired to Crescent City from Southern California, but apparently missed the hurried pace of an ER and found a spot at Sutter Coast last summer, said Grant Scholes, the hospital’s director of marketing and public relations.

Doctor washed off jetty

Rescue workers at the jetty where a wave washed a man into the rocks Sunday morning.Photo courtesy of Bill Wortell, Del Norte County Search and Rescue.
Intense effort to rescue him proves futile

As emergency workers tried to reach a local doctor who was swept off the Crescent City jetty Sunday, a wave crashed over the breakwater with so much force that it pushed a rescue swimmer wearing a life jacket down to the sea floor.

“The really big wave hit us — I don’t know how big it was, but it was definitely over 20 feet — and it basically knocked me down to the bottom of the harbor,” said Tim Wiley, a Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol deputy.

“It was really kind of surreal,” Wiley said of his time underwater. “I was just walking around like I was walking on the sidewalk.”

 It was presumably a similar wave that knocked 61-year-old Onik Arian off the jetty in the first place, and resulted in the Sutter Coast Hospital physician’s death.

Wiley said that even though Arian fell on the harbor side of the jetty, where the water is calmer than in the ocean, the waves that crash over the concrete breaker can feel like a “high-pressure fire hose.”

News of record for Dec. 2-8

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