21-year-old plunges 100 feet into tree while taking photos on cliff, Oregon cops say

The Oregon coast and Pacific Ocean is seen from Cascade Head near Otis, Ore., in 2017.
The Oregon coast and Pacific Ocean is seen from Cascade Head near Otis, Ore., in 2017. Associated Press file

A quick stop on Highway 101 along the Oregon coast for some photos turned tragic Sunday for a 21-year-old Oregon State University student, KGW reports.

Michelle Casey slipped and fell while taking photos over a retaining wall at a cliff with her boyfriend and plunged 100 feet into a tree over the ocean, KOIN reported.

The accident took place at 10:16 a.m. at a Neahkahnie Mountain vista point, the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Department reported.

Rescuers retrieved Casey, who was “unconscious but breathing,” from the tree using ropes and airlifted her to a Portland hospital, sheriff’s officials wrote in a statement.

Despite the two-hour rescue operation, Casey died later Sunday of her injuries, KPTV reported.

“I just want people to basically know that she’s just the most loving person that I’ve probably ever known,” said friend Tyson Zagelow, KOIN reported.

A statement from her family said Casey was “born in joy” on Christmas 1997 and loved being outdoors, especially at the beach, KGW reported. She had a second-degree black belt in tae kwan do, played volleyball and sang in a choir, her family wrote.

“Michelle always brought people together with her bubbly personality and loving, giving heart,” her family wrote, noting that she had chosen to be an organ donor and crediting her with saving two lives.

A GoFundMe account has been established to assist her family, which lives in Happy Valley, Oregon.

Related stories from Belleville News-Democrat

Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.