Gold Beach mother drowns

By Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer June 10, 2014 09:29 pm

A map shows the area where Cherie Michelle Jarnigan fell into the Rogue River Monday afternoon.

A Gold Beach woman drowned in the Rogue River Monday afternoon, leaving behind her husband and two young children, according the Curry County Sheriff’s Department.

Cherie Michelle Jarnigan, 38, was spending the day at the east end of Huntley Bar with her two children, ages 2 and 5, and friend Chandra Sinnot and her infant child. At 3 p.m., Jarnigan was trying to retrieve a flying disc from the river at Huntley Park, about six miles east of Gold Beach, when she entered deep water and lost her footing, according to eyewitness reports.

Sinnot tried to save Jarnigan, who was not wearing any flotation devices, but they were both swept down river. A man camping at Huntley Park heard the commotion and jumped in the water to help the pair, authorities said. 

Sinnot and the man somehow managed to get Jarnigan to the opposite side of the river,  about 300 yards from where she entered the water at the park.  

By this time, Sheriff’s dispatch received two 911 calls from people at Huntley Park. Sheriff John Bishop and Deputy Terry Brown responded in a vehicle while Deputy Walter Scherbarth responded by boat from the port area. When they arrived, they found Jarnigan was on the east side of the river, accessible only by boat.

Several passengers from a Jerry’s Rogue Jet Boats that had stopped at the scene were attempting to administer CPR to Jarnigan.

Bishop and Brown were transported across the river by a Jerry’s Rogue Jet Boat operated by Darin Stichter. They found Jarnigan unresponsive and placed her on the bow of the jet boat. Brown and nurses onboard continued CPR while they were transporting her to a waiting Cal Ore Life Flight Ambulance. Paramedics continued lifesaving efforts while Jarnigan was transported to Curry General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

During this time, Jarnigan’s husband, Terry, who was on a job interview in the Brookings area, was located and notified of the incident.

On Tuesday, Nicole Legg and Synthia Westerman, friends of Jarnigan, was coordinating a community effort to support the surviving family members.

“The family is new to our community and doesn’t have any extended family in the area: we’ll be their family,” Legg said. 

“Any donations will be used for funeral expenses and daily living expenses,” she said.

An account has been established at Rogue Credit Union under the name Terry Jarnigan.  

“Community support is greatly needed, being they are experiencing financial hardship,” Westerman said.

The family is in need of diapers, wipes, food, clothing and toiletries, she said.

For more information about donations, call Legg at 541-373-0586 or Westerman at 541-373-0545.

Another way to donate is via an online fundraiser launched by Gold Beach resident Krista Smith. The website is http://www.gofundme.com/a6cxb8.

“The family is low income as it is and just really needs assistance with funeral costs and also every day needs at this point,” Smith said. “They were already struggling before this happened.”