A 14-year-old girl from Eugene, Oregon, died on March 25 when a photo shoot on the beach with friends took an unexpected turn.
Aurora Genai Sheffel and her friends were at an Oregon beach for spring break when she and another friend stood on a log looking out at the water, while another friend took a photo, reports Bandon Western World. When the surf came in, the friend jumped off the log, but Sheffel became pinned under it.
“She turned her head and it happened,” said Sheffel’s mother, Cora Sheffel Wederquist. “I spoke to her friend that tried to help her. A 14-year-old girl tried to move that log herself, but more water came and rolled it on my daughter. She said it was so quick and that Aurora felt no pain.”
Madisyn Leidall, Sheffel’s friend who was at the beach, told KEZI that the two girls on the log were posing to make a heart shape when the wave came in, causing the log to roll over Sheffel’s legs and pin her down.
“We tried to get her out,” Leidall exlained. “We were screaming when bystanders came and tried to help us move the log. But the log had rolled again. Doctors said she died instantly because the damage to her head and neck were so traumatic.”
Witness Steven Michael said emergency responders showed up and tried to save the teen, while a woman handed blankets to the wet friends who were in shock and crying.
“She told them, ‘You need to stop and pray right now, it looks like they’re losing her,'” Michael said.
Oregon police warn that even small logs can get water logged and crush people. The log that killed Sheffel was around 30 feet long.
Leidall said that she and Sheffel shared a moment of eye contact and was the last person Sheffel saw before she died.
“It’s just hard knowing that I’ll never get to see her again,” Leidall said.
Sheffel’s friends and family said that she was a bright, hardworking student and talented cheerleader — the only freshman on the varsity team — who wanted to go to college to become a marine biologist.
“She was the little sister,” said Sheffel’s cheerleading coach, Rebecca Critchett. “It was easy for everyone to embrace her. She was such a happy personality … the way she talked to everyone made them feel like they had their own personal friendship with them. She had a best friend in everyone.”
The team said they are devastated but they hope to carry on with positivity to honor her memory.
“If she were to look at us and see us being unhappy and sad, carrying her legacy with sorrow … that wouldn’t be what she wants,” said Critchett.