The center of this story is this picture:
As this article in ZanesvilleTimeRecorder, by L. B. Whyde, tells:
It is that beautiful rocky shore. Don't we all eager to have a picture taken there? Do we ever think for a moment about the possible danger lurking behind it? The ZanesvilleTimesRecorder calls it an accident as they report: "The accident occurred September 27th along the Cinque Terre coast." I tend to think it's more than an accident, but I don't think our language has a term for what happened there yet. I said it's also a beautiful story just let this Newhouse News Service report, by Jesse Tinsley, tells it
The candid photo, taken Sept. 27, reveals her standing on a rocky cliff in front of maddening white surf, the wind blowing her hair as she points with one hand toward something she sees.
In that frozen moment, Sarah Scherer had been doing what her husband, Christopher, knows she did best: pointing out the beauty in her surroundings.
"She was in her element when we took that picture," Christopher said of the image taken only seconds before Scherer, 28, a 1997 Newark High School graduate, was swept by a large wave into the Mediterranean Sea, unable to be rescued despite efforts Christopher and others made to save her. "Her head and her arms were above water. She had a lot of blood flowing down her head," he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "She was struggling to stay afloat, and she started to do the backstroke."
Christopher Scherer, who had just taken her picture, tried to help her but was pulled in himself; another wave threw him back ashore. He somehow managed to end up back on the rocks, breaking a rib and cutting his arms and hands.
Now, Christopher's last photograph of his wife standing on the rocky cliffs is a bittersweet reminder, he said.
"It's difficult (to look at) because the images of what happened after are so vivid ... In the same sense, when I look at the picture, she is so full of life she's doing what she always wanted to do."
The best day of Sarah Scherer's life was her last.My sincere sympathy goes to Christopher and their family. Words are no longer adequate. The only question in the back of my mind is what if -- what if they could all have a life vest on?!
On some steps overlooking the Mediterranean in northern Italy, she posed as her husband took a snapshot.
It was Sept. 27, the second day of the Madison, Ohio, couple's trip to Cinque Terre, or five villages, famous for Via dell' Amore — a Lover's Lane that winds through the villages.
Vineyards and olive groves stretch from the hillsides to the sea. And Mediterranean sunsets, charming seaside villages and small-town hospitality draw lovers from all over to this slice of paradise.
"It was a trip she always wanted to take," her husband, Christopher, said. "She always wanted to walk the Cinque Terre."
But as he snapped another photo, a huge wave rose from the sea and swept her away.
"I started screaming and ran to where she went in," said Christopher. "The water just pulled her down, back into the sea ..."
A second wave hit Christopher, crashing him into the rocks and taking him under.
A third wave tossed him out of the water and onto the rocks, breaking a rib and cutting up his hands and arms.
Scherer followed his wife along the coastline, yelling for help.
One of those who joined him threw a life preserver, but she was too far out, he said.
"I saw her head bleeding, blood washing down her face," he recalled. "She was struggling to stay afloat and she started to do the backstroke." Then she disappeared beneath the waves.
Both 28, they met six years ago at a mutual friend's home.
Christopher worked as a team leader for Avery Dennison in Lake County. Sarah was working on her master's degree in art therapy and community counseling at Ursuline College.
Their two-week European vacation was long overdue. The Scherers had visited Paris, Venice and other cities before taking a train to Cinque Terre.
At one point, they stopped at a path with paved steps that led down to the rocks. She took his photo, and she stood at the same spot so that he could take hers.
"I took one picture and the second one that I have is her getting struck by the wave," Christopher said.
A further development and some further words reported in the News-Herald by Jason Lea:
The president of Cinque Terre State Park is setting up two plaques in memory of Sarah, Christopher said. One will be the picture of her pointing to the sea.
Sarah's mother said: "Sarah was a romantic. If she had to die, being taken out to sea ... she would approve."
"I don't take anything for granted anymore," Christopher said. "Any of the time we ever wasted, I wish I could have just a minute of it back. All my friends who have spouses, I'm going to remind them to treasure them and love them while they still can."
Update September 12, 2008
In about two weeks it will be one year anniversary of the happening of this sad beautiful story -- the lost of Sarah Scherer at the Cinque Terre coast on September 27, 2007. Christine, Sarah's Mom, recent emailed me some detailed information about the event beyond those reported in the newspaper:
We spoke with many of the sailors in Manarola-some who witnessed the whole ordeal there. They called it a rogue wave that hit her. It was at least a 30 foot wave. I did take pictures of the cliff from the side view and will include it here. The sailors also talked of the time of the day they were there that the currents change right around noon. Chris had been where Sarah was before she was standing there for her to take pictures of him. The sailors said that the sea probably looked quite ok when they first got there, even though it was a rough sea that day and then when the current changed-the waves came in 3-the first one took her. She did not drown—but died of the head injuries that came from being smashed on the very rough rocks there and was probably dead in 3-5 minutes. If she wouldn’t have hit the rocks-she may have made it as she was an expert swimmer-and life guard and swim instructor. Chris dropped the camera after taking the picture of the wave hitting her---you could see that it was over her head in the picture. He was taken by the next wave, but had run to the edge of the rocks so didn’t get smashed on them…then the 3rd wave threw him back onto the rocks—and before this happened-he thought he was also dead as was under awhile. Once he hit the rocks, he hung on and then crawled out and up the walk and summoned help from an American woman and her daughter---but Sarah was probably already or close to death—they threw out a life preserver to her and she didn’t respond.Christine and Christopher, Sarah's loving husband, attended a ceremony in July organized by local Cinque Terre to remember Sarah's case "because of a fierce wave in Manarola last year" with details and a video here.
What struck me was the fact that Sarah was not drown but "died of the head injuries that came from being smashed on the very rough rocks there." My general reaction that they may need wearing a life vest while out there should be revised. In addition to a life vest, may be a helmet should also be wearing while out on those rocky shores.
I have been alluded frequently that we don't know how, where, or why those fierce freaque waves happen and there are different kinds of freaque waves depends on where it happens: deep sea freaque waves, nearshore freaque waves, and onshore freaquer waves. For the onshore freaque waves, there must be distinctions between sandy shore and rocky shore. All these phenomena happen out there all the time we don't really know much about them. We only heard them when there are trigedies or disasters occur.
I have a proposal for the academic world: give the onshore freaque waves hitting a rocky shore a new designation: call it the Sarah wave!
I came across this Youtube video which did not indicate where it took place. It is not the same as Cinque Terre coast, but I think it would be a good example of a Sarah wave at the end!