KPTV FOX Channel 12: Beaverton Couple Rescues Endangered Turtle on SW Washington Coast


Every year, Beaverton couple Chad and Mickey Heidt go camping at Cape Disappointment on the southwest Washington coast.

This year, their beach stroll turned into a desperate rescue mission.

Chad recalls seeing something odd lying on the sand.

“I saw something that just kind of looked out of the ordinary and I looked at Mickey and said, ‘Is that a turtle?’” he said.

“I said there’s no way that’s a turtle,” Mickey said. “How could a turtle be on the Oregon coast? It’s freezing here!”

It was, in fact, a turtle – an endangered, female, Olive Ridley Sea Turtle. The turtle wasn’t moving and appeared to be dead, but Chad got closer to be sure.

“I just kind of rubbed it along its head and its eyes blinked and it just kind of moved its head back a little bit.  And so I told Mickey, it’s alive,” he said.

They ran back to their campground and Googled what to do. Chad called the Seaside Aquarium and experts told him to get the turtle off the beach. Despite feeling unqualified for such a mission, Chad flagged down a park ranger.

“I said this is going to sound crazy, but there’s a turtle on the beach,” said Chad. “And I’m on the phone with the Seaside Aquarium and we need help getting out there to get him.”

It had gotten pretty dark, but Chad, Mickey and the park ranger found the turtle and lifted her into the bed of their truck. Chad said the turtle was about 2 feet long and 1 1/2 feet wide. They brought the turtle back to camp and a team from the aquarium was just minutes away.

They said the turtle probably got hurt and stuck in a wayward current, but workers at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport would know what to do.

Chad and Mickey were so relieved.

“We’re just so excited. It was really emotional!” Chad said.

By midnight, the turtle was in Newport getting medical care. She arrived looking emaciated with a body temperature 16 degrees below normal, but hopes are high she’ll make a full recovery.

Chad and Mickey are proud they could play a role.

“Everyone worked really well together and that was what was so amazing about it,” Mickey said. “All for this creature.”

Find more local stories by visiting