PACIFIC CITY, Ore. - A picture posted on a Tillamook newspaper's Facebook page that prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to search for possible Japan tsunami debris turned out to be just one big misunderstanding between friends.
The photo was posted by a fisherman on the Tillamook Headlight-Herald's Facebook page with a note that said it was tsunami debris spotted off the coast in Pacific City.
The U.S. Coast Guard responded by sending out a boat and helicopter to see if they could spot anything but it later became clear that there might not actually be anything out there.
"The picture looks suspiciously similar to the dock that washed ashore at Agate Beach," Jennifer Chamberlain with the state Office of Emergency Management told KATU when we called to ask about it. She added that state officials tried to reach the man who posted the picture but that all of his phone numbers were disconnected.
KATU later received an email from a local man, Mike Laverty, who said the photo at the center of all the buzz was actually an older picture of the dock that washed ashore early last month.
"A Facebook and dory friend was confused when I posted it on my Facebook page," he wrote in his email. "And he shared the photo with the Herald, etc. Photos are from a few days prior to washing ashore, obviously."
We talked to Laverty by phone and confirmed with him that there had, indeed, been a mix-up on Facebook. When asked what he thought about the big stir that had been created from it all, he said "My poor buddy Bill is probably going to catch some hell from that."
Laverty's friend, William Hook, later posted the following comment on the Tillamook Headlight-Herald's Facebook page:
Sorry for the confusion... this WAS the same dock that washed up on Agate beach. My buddy just posted the photo 18 hours ago & he'd seen in a few days before it washed up.... in 40 fathoms off PC. I did not know the timing of his photo. He said he should have boarded it & had hsi photo taken then....... I didn't mean to cry that the sky was falling.
Another photo that was posted on Laverty's Facebook page shows a closeup view of the dock that washed ashore back in June. Photo courtesy Mike Laverty.