A leisurely seaside hike turned into a nightmare for an Oregon family.
Jeremy Stiles and his children, Lola, 7, and William, 4, were walking along a beach trail near Cannon Beach, Oregon, on Jan. 11 when they were swept into the ocean by an exceptionally large wave known as a sneaker wave, authorities said.
Police arrived at the scene at Falcon Cove and found Stiles struggling to get out of the water. An officer was able to bring Lola to shore, but she died at a local hospital. William remains missing. The children's father is recovering from hypothermia, according to a GoFundMe page.
Sneaker waves, which often appear with no warning, can last up to 20 minutes and surge more than 150 feet, according to the National Weather Service. They most often occur on the West Coast.
Lola and William's mom, Jamie Stiles, took to Facebook last week to thank loved ones for their support.
“I am not ok right now but am in treatment and will reach my new normal someday soon,” she wrote in part. “I have read every single comment and message sent our way and feel like each one adds a tiny drop of glue to my completely shattered heart. I know Lola and William are surrounding us with their beautiful energy as we navigate a path to peace and healing. ... My babies loved adventure and I know they are off now on the grandest adventure of them all, together.”
Sabrina Flamoe, principal at Vestal Elementary School in Portland where Lola attended first grade, described the little girl as gentle and intuitive.
"Lola could sense when other kids were sad or struggling," Flamoe told TODAY Parents. "She would go across the room and give them a hug or hold their hand. Her legacy is going to be her sweet, empathetic heart."
Levi Reid, a Petty Officer First Class with the United States Coast Guard, said that in the Pacific Northwest there are permanent warning notices at most beach access points. On the day of the tragedy, he noticed new signs about storm surges posted up and down the Oregon coast. Reid said he doesn't know whether they were posted at Falcon Cove where the incident happened.
"Basically, just be aware of conditions," Reid told TODAY Parents. "It's definitely scary."
A high-surf alert was in effect in the area on Jan. 11.
"Destructive waves may wash over beaches, jetties, and other structures unexpectedly," the Tillamook County Emergency Management warned on its website. "People can be swept off rocks and jetties and drown while observing high surf."