Shooting at short Sands Beach

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DB Crouper

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I had the good fortune to take a lifelong friend sturgeon fishing this last Saturday. Why good fortune? Let me tell Jack's story, and you will understand that every day spent with Jack is fortunate, as it is nothing short of miraculous that he is alive today.

Twelve years have passed since that fateful grey and drizzly winter morning in the winter of 1999. Jack and Danny, Oregon park rangers, met at the parking lot, on the east side of Highway 101, of Short Sands Beach. The beach itself is about 1/4 mile from the highway, down a storybook-like trail which winds through a grand coastal rain forest of towering fir, hemlock, and spruce trees, as well as native flora of salal, salmonberry, wild rhodies, ferns, vine maple, and escalonia. The path crisscrosses a gurgling creek with quaint foot bridges, and then opens up to perhaps Oregon's most beautiful and secluded beach, located between Cannon Beach and Manzanita. Surfers, soul seekers, and families visit this pristine paradise in great numbers in the summer and early fall, but it is often deserted in the gloominess of the Oregon winter. That was the case on that dark day, Danny's last.

It was 7:30 AM when Jack and Danny met, and Jack, the senior ranger asked Danny whether he wanted to check and clean the restroom, or walk the trail, clearing limbs and debris from the previous night's storm. It was Jack's choice, but that is the kind of boss he was; beloved, because he always put others first. Danny chose the restroom, which was shielded from view of the highway by brush, just east of the parking lot. Jack jogged across the highway and proceeded down the trail at a brisk pace, picking up and tossing aside the small limbs and sundry debris that littered the trail, a job he had done many times in his 27 years as a park ranger. He knew that his job took longer than Danny's, so he moved quickly and efficiently so that his partner, Danny, wouldn't have a long and nonproductive break. As he jogged back up the newly cleared trail to the highway, he pulled up abrubtly at the trailhead. He saw Danny and a stranger in earnest conversation, at the parking lot entrance to the restroom trail. He noted that the stranger had a black raincoat, with the hood tied up in such a way that it covered his mouth and nose. Jack sensed trouble as he jogged across the highway to Danny's side. As he arrived on the scene, he immediatly saw the small luger style pistol the hooded stranger held in Danny's side.

Intermission
 
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beaverfan

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Holy crap you and Slick tell some awesome stories!!!! Can't wait for more!

I went to Short Sands yesterday so it's still so fresh in my mind, love that beach!
 
brandon4455

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man you should write a book of stories db.. they make for a great read.
 
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DB Crouper

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Holy crap you and Slick tell some awesome stories!!!! Can't wait for more!

I went to Short Sands yesterday so it's still so fresh in my mind, love that beach!

man you should write a book of stories db.. they make for a great read.

Thanks, guys. I only like to write when someone is entertained by it. If you live long enough, interesting stuff happens. When it's tragic happenings to familys and friends, it's cathartic to tell their story. I'll contine this one later today or tonight.
 
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DB Crouper

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Jack quickly assessed the situation, and attempted to diffuse the situation, asking the gunman, what the trouble was, and how could he (Jack) help. Danny told Jack that the gunman was sleeping in the restroom because his tent was leaking in the storm last night. When I asked him to leave, he got out of his sleeping bag and pulled the gun on me, then took my keys and wallet. The gunman said to Jack, "Keys and Wallet!" Jack complied, and the gunman slipped jack's possessions into a ratty duffel, rummaged around in it, and pulled out a very large white zip tie. He extended the tie to Jack, "Your left wrist to his right!" he commanded. Jack complied, and made a pretense of pulling tightly on the zip tie. The gunman walked around to the back of them, ordered them to extend their bound wrists behind them, and yanked violently on the zip tie, ratcheting it painfully snug and inescapable. "We're gonna cross the road. Walk fast and you'll live. Don't look back." Jack and Danny exchanged a glance, both hoping some traffic would appear, and walked across the parking lot toward the highway. "Faster, or I'll shoot you here!" the gunman barked. Jack knew now the killer's intent, and they picked up their pace as they crossed the highway. Jack and Danny could hear the killer's labored breathing behind them. No traffic appeared.
Once clear of view from the highway, the killer told them to walk slowly, and they continued on the neatly cleared trail toward the beach. But they never reached the beach. About 300 yards from the highway, the killer ordered them to stop, and turn back to back. He pulled another zip tie from his duffel, and ordred them to extend their free wrists toward him. The killer slipped the tie around their wrists, still holding the gun in his left hand, and using the fingers of his right hand to guide the tag end of the tie into its slot. He ratcheted it tight and stepped back, standing to Jack's left side and Danny's right, bound tightly and helplessly together, back to back.
Wordlessly the killer raised the 22 caliber pistol, loaded with hollow points, to danny's right temple, and fired. Danny went down hard on his left side, blood pumping from the bullet hole, taking Jack down with him. The killer calmly stood over Danny, put the gun to his ear, and fired a needless second shot. Danny was mercifully dead from the first shot. At this point, Jack tried to kick the killer, knowing it was a hollow gesture. The killer stepped away, circled a bit, and approached Jack and Danny's body from the side, as jack was pinned to the ground on his right side, by the attachment to, and the bulk of Danny's body.
"I thought about my family, and then I prayed. Please God... was as far as I got." The killer held the gun inches from Jack's left temple and fired.

More later
 
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Irishrover

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This is a true event. It occured April 27th 1999. The bad guy is doing life without parrole. My heart go out to Jack and all those victims of this trajedy including the family members.

"When it's tragic happenings to familys and friends, it's cathartic to tell their story." DB I'm glad you pointed this out so the readers understands your perspective. It is a tribute to Jack and Danny and I'm glad the story of these fine men has not withered away.
 
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DB Crouper

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"I was alive", Jack told me, " but I didn't want Danny's killer to know. I knew he was going to shoot me again, as he had Danny. I held my breath and forced myself to lie still. The second shot, just below the first, didn't hurt as much as the first, so I thought I might be dead. But I felt myself still holding my breath, and needing some air. Dead guys don't need air, I thought to myself, and then I heard his footsteps fading into the distance. I opened my right eye slightly, and saw the killer walking directly away, 50 feet in the distance. I took a shallow breath. I was alive! I watched him disappear around a turn in the trail, and forced my body to lie still, while I counted slowly to 100. Danny's fall had stretched one of the zip ties a little, and I was able to work my left wrist free. I was able to roll Danny on his back, and check for a pulse, but I knew he was gone with the first shot. I worked some hide off my and Danny's other wrist and was free. Still bleeding from two bullet wounds in my head, I applied pressure with my hand, and staggered slowly toward the highway. I had seen guys survive in Vietnam when no one gave them a chance. I was alive still, and dammit, he wasn't going to get away. Not after killing Danny."

Jack made it to the highway, and as he looked across the highway, he saw the killer, ransacking Danny's pickup. He quickly ducked down and crawled back down the trail and into some brush, critically wounded and knowing the killer was 100 feet away. Soon he heard an engine start, loose rock scratching from spinning tires, and the diminishing roar of a racing engine. He rose painfully to his feet and crept back toward the highway. Danny's pickup was gone! The killer was gone. Jack started walking the last 20 feet to the highway. He heard an approaching vehicle in the distance. Was the killer coming back? He turned toward the trail and tried to move quickly. His body wouldn't respond. He turned back toward the highway, and a semi chugged around the corner and up the hill toward him. Jack struggled to the highway and in front of the oncoming truck, waving his arms feebly. The truck veered into the opposite lane as though it was going to pass him, and Jack moved to block its passage. The driver saw Jack's ranger uniform through all the blood, and squealed to a stop.
The killer had taken Jack's cell phone, but the trucker had a radio, and loaded Jack into his truck, called the State Police on his radio, and headed toward Seaside Hospital, 20 miles away. Jack took the radio from the truck driver, and described Danny's pickup, and they got the license number from Danny's name. The manhunt was on, with the killer only having a 15 minute head start, and now the race was on to save Jack.
The hospital was awaiting Jack's arrival at the emergency area, and the trucker got him there in 25 minutes, with a police escort for the last 5 miles. Wish I could have seen the flying semi with the screaming flashing Ford Victoria leading the way.
Jack was barely awake upon arrival, having lost a couple quarts of blood, a shattered jaw and multiple missing teeth from hollow point deflected bullet fragments, and brain swelling beginning from the two slugs, one in his brain and one just behind and under his optic nerve. He was Catholic and the Priest was called.

Have to stop for awhile
 
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DB Crouper

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This is a true event. It occured April 27th 1999. The bad guy is doing life without parrole. My heart go out to Jack and all those victims of this trajedy including the family members.

"When it's tragic happenings to familys and friends, it's cathartic to tell their story." DB I'm glad you pointed this out so the readers understands your perspective. It is a tribute to Jack and Danny and I'm glad the story of these fine men has not withered away.

I'm glad you remember the date. I was fishing with Jack Saturday, and he told me it happened 10 years ago, so I didn't look up the date. I finally got him to tell me the whole story about 5 years ago. He didn't want to talk about it for a long time. I'm telling it now, because it's fresh in my mind, as he retold the story at my urgings, to another man on my boat.
 
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sherman

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I don't know why I never heard about this tragedy. I read it to my wife & we are inthrawled with your telling of Jack & Danny's misfotunate incounter. These kind of things are why I pack when we are out & about, wheather it be camping, fishing or hiking. Not to hyjack your thread but we had an encounter several years ago with a creepy lookin guy while walking the trail around eel lake while camped at tugman sp. Fortunately I stared him down as he was sizing us up & he decided to move on. He looked like he had been living in the brush & I don't know what his intensions were but we did bring it to the camp host attention for there were no rangers on duty. Never heard another thing about it. I'm not a parinoid person just one that is aware of my surroundings & vigilant whereever we are. My daughter & I went through gun training together even though I was in the military but wanted a refresher course & we both have CWP.
 
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DB Crouper

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Seaside Hospital personel did their best, pumping some blood into jack, and wiring up his jaw a little, as they waited for the Life Flight helicopter to take him to a trauma center in Portland. Jack told the Priest to go home, and Jack's family asked him to stay. Jack was in grave condition, but refused to acknowledge it.

The manhunt spread throughout the area with police called in from surrounding towns and counties. The noose tightened, and a sheriff's deputy passed the pickup between Jewell and Elsie, gave chase and the killer, a transient career criminal named Cole was apprehended without incident that same morning.
Had Jack not survived, it probably would not have been reported until that evening, after Jack and Danny failed to return home from work. The killer probably would have been in California by then.
The trial was short, as a plea deal was reached with the killer, life without parole for a guilty plea. The DA originally wanted the death penalty, but Jack couldn't identify him in a lineup, because he had his hood tied over his mouth and nose.

Jack had surgery to remove the bullet from his brain, but the bullet near his optic nerve is unreachable, and remains today, giving him a constant headache. He takes as little medication as he must to manage the pain, and is 80% back to what he was, which is more and tougher than most of the people I've met in my life.

I probably shouldn't, but I'm going to end this story with something I learned from a close friend of me and Jack's, as I stayed at this friend's house over the Memorial Day weekend. When Jack was in Seaside hospital, awaiting the Life Flight to Portland, his family around him, unsure if he would survive, in shock, crying, sorrowful, Jack asked if our friend Randy was there. "I want to tell Randy sumpin" he mumbled, his jaw wired up. Randy was called from the waiting room into the critical care area, and Jack asked Randy to hold his hand, and lean in close.
In a mumbling but very audible voice, Jack said with a faint smile, "I jus wan you ta know, I'm not gay." Everybody in the room, the Dr., two nurses, his wife and kids, and Randy and his wife couldn't help but laugh out loud. His recovery from there was remarkable, and he is going to hike the Skyline Trail for the entire length of Oregon this summer, just him and his dog. A true modern day hero.

End
 
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Slick

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Outstanding work Don!

:clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:
 
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Bassleg

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If there is a place called HELL I am sure Cole will be in it.
 

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