Father spreads ashes of his son at journey's end
After a journey of more than 400 miles, the ashes of Dustin Weber were laid to rest in Klamath on Sunday, the one-year anniversary of the tsunami that took his life.
"We brought him back home," said Dustin's father, Jon Weber, who started his trek to Klamath with Dustin's ashes 13 days ago from Astoria, Ore., where Dustin's body was found weeks after the tsunami.
Jon Weber, of Bend, Ore., ran 150 miles of the 430-mile trek, completing the rest on bicycle.
"I just hope (Dustin's) up there looking down saying, 'this was a
good run,'" Weber said Sunday from the beach at the mouth of the Klamath
River where was his son was swept into sea.
Jeff Baker accompanied Weber on bicycle and Weber's close friend,
Rick Loeks, stayed close to the two men in an RV to provide support and
Baker also experienced the untimely death of his son when Jared Baker
died in a motorcycle accident in 2003. Jared and Dustin were both 25.
On Sunday morning, Weber and Baker cycled south on U.S. Highway 101,
climbing more than 1,000 feet. At the peak, Weber hopped off the bike
and continued on foot. At Trees of Mystery, he was joined by his
daughter and Dustin's half-sister, Kelsea Weber, and they completed the
journey to the Klamath River Overlook.
Weber wore Dustin's shoes and T-shirt for the last stretch.
After reaching the rainy overlook, Jon, Kelsea and Dina Weber
(Dustin's stepmother) walked to a family plot off of Requa Road to
spread Dustin's ashes.
Loeks, who Dustin knew as Uncle Rick, called the intermittent
rainfall that greeted the group on Requa Road, "tears of happiness."
After spreading the ashes, the group descended to the beach where
Dustin was last seen. It looked completely changed from when Jon came
there after the tsunami to look for Dustin's body. In the days after the
tsunami, Jon scoured the beach looking for traces of his son. He even
repelled down the cliffs north of the Klamath River Overlook. He
remembers seeing buoys and debris about 40 feet up on the cliffside when
At the beach Sunday, Jon pointed to near-shore rocks, more than 40
feet tall, that were covered by tsunami waves one year ago, according to
Dustin's friends who were with him that fateful day.
One of the friends, Freddie Ledford, said Monday he remembers turning around to face a wall of water.
"Dustin almost made it to the top, he grabbed me by my T-shirt, by
the neck, that was the only thing he could grab because he was falling
back off, and that's when the next surge hit us and threw us back off
and that was the last time I saw him," Ledford said.
Ledford was thrown back into the cliffside and grabbed onto whatever
he could to avoid getting swept out. He started to scramble up the cliff
- still underwater. By the time he was on dry ground, the water was
still almost 20 feet up on the cliff, he said.
On Sunday, Kelsea Weber neglected to wear socks for her 9-mile run
with her father, preferring to show off the calf tattoo that she had
done to remember her brother. The tattoo has Dustin's name, birth and
death dates, and "John 3:16," resembling a similar tattoo that Dustin
had with the entire bible verse.
Baker said he always tried not to think about his son's death as a
way to get over it, but he feels like this trek helped complete the
necessary mourning he had avoided for years.
The group members left the beach and headed to the Requa Inn, where
they were greeted with a complimentary dinner and a dry, warm place to
They said they would like to thank everyone who helped make the trek a
success, and they will continue to accept donations for underprivileged
children that can be made to Tribute Run at US Bank and Bank of the
Cascades in Oregon.
Loeks kept friends, family and local newspapers posted with updates
sent by email. The last one ended: "to Dustin, rest in peace my nephew
... maybe gone ... but not forgotten!"
Reach Adam Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org.