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2 die in surf while digging for clams on Southern Washington beaches

(Stock Photo)

LONG BEACH, Wash. (AP) — Two women have died in separate incidents after they were caught in rough surf while digging for clams on ocean beaches in southwest Washington.

Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson said on Facebook that the women were reported missing Friday around 9 p.m., roughly four minutes apart.

The first 911 call reported that 70-year-old Jerilynne Reinke was lost in the surf north of Ocean Park on the Long Beach Peninsula. Her body was found Saturday evening near Westport.

In the second case, 61-year-old Sharon Leseman from Toledo was reported missing in the surf north of the mouth of Willapa Bay. She had been digging for clams with her husband when the two became separated. Her body was found in Pacific County around 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

The sheriff reminded people to be aware of powerful waves that can appear at any time. Both women were experienced clam diggers. Local residents say the ocean surf has been especially dangerous this winter.

"Our tides haven't been very stable this winter anyway. We had tides all the way up the road about a month ago anyway. So our tides have been really dangerous," Ocean Park resident Sheila Jones said.

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