A Salem teen has died after falling from a cliff above the ocean on the Oregon Coast, the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office said.

Salem-Keizer School District spokesman Jay Remy confirmed the identity of the teen as 17-year-old Slick Rick Nelson.

Sheriff Andy Long said the teen died after he fell hundreds of feet from a cliff in Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area near Pacific City. Nelson had just completed his junior year at Sprague High School.

Long said around 11:45 p.m. Sunday, deputies and emergency crews responded to the area after a friend of Nelson’s called 911. According to Long, four or five people had gone past a safety fence in the cliff area where Nelson fell.

The Netarts-Oceanside Fire District rescue rope team found Nelson on some rocks near the water’s edge on the south side of the Cape, Long said. He was found with traumatic fall injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to Long, Nelson’s death is still under investigation. The Sheriff’s Office was also assisted by Nestucca Rural Fire Protection District and a Coast Guard helicopter from Astoria, Long said.

Brendan Hassler, 16, was present at the time of the accident.

“We were just hanging out, having a bonfire, and some people went up to the top (of the dune,)” Hassler said. “It was dark and he tried to sit down and there was nothing there (to sit down on) and he was just gone.”

Hassler, who played football with Nelson said they had been friends since freshman year.

“He was friendly to anyone he met, Hassler said. “He always wanted to have fun. He was a great athlete too. This is a huge loss for our team.”

According to 16-year-old Makia Banta, a group of about 30 teens had gone to the beach Sunday.

Banta said she was near the bonfire, on the beach at the time.

“Will was at the top of the hill with him and shined his flashlight at us and said he needed help,” Banta said. “We freaked out pretty much and called the cops.”

Banta said a group of about 15 teenagers stayed on the beach until about 5 a.m. According to Banta it took about an hour for emergency personnel to recover Nelson’s body.

“Slick was full of life,” Banta said. “He doesn’t waste time, he makes every moment worth living.”

A friend of Nelson’s, 16-year-old Anthony Nunn, said he’d known Nelson since first grade.

“We grew up together,” Nunn said. “We’ve been good friends since he came to Salem Heights (Elementary School).”

Nunn described Nelson as someone people looked up to.

“I’m obviously really sad,” Nunn said. “He was a really good leader. I feel like we lost a captain.”

Nelson was an honorable mention all-Greater Valley Conference defensive lineman as a junior, despite a significant knee injury. He also played basketball for Sprague, according to Remy.

Coaches and teachers remembered Nelson as a positive influence to many.

“Real popular with his peers and his teammates,” Sprague football coach Jay Minyard said. “Slick was kind of known around the Sprague community as the high energy guy, the cheerleader, the fun-loving kid. Just a great kid. Great heart.”

Sprague canceled its football activities for the rest of the week. Remy said counseling services will be available at the high school for students and staff.

“We had camp last Thursday and Friday which he was a part of,” Minyard said. “He was going to go to summer school this summer and making himself a better kid and had the accident over there on the coast.”

Kerry Hadden, a teacher at Sprague, described Nelson as a hard worker.

“He was probably the most polite kid,” Sprague teacher Kary Hadden said. “He was always ‘yes sir, no sir’ or ‘yes coach, no coach.’ It was always very positive, very upbeat. He worked hard. I know he wanted to do some stuff.”

A candlelight vigil for Nelson is set to take place at 9 p.m. tonight at the Sprague High School football stadium at 2373 Kuebler Rd. S.

Those who wish to donate to Nelson’s family can do so at the Bank of the Cascades at 3999 Commercial St.

Email [email protected], call (503) 399-6884 or follow on Twitter @alisharoemeling

Nelson is the third teen to die in a water-related accident this summer.

Cody Ellingsworth, a senior who was about to graduate from Sprague High School, drowned May 30 in an accident at Detroit Lake.

Ellingsworth was swimming with a group of friends at the lake about 50 miles east of Salem when they lost sight of him. His friends eventually pulled him from the water and started CPR. Ellingsworth was flown by air ambulance to Salem Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

He was 18.

Blayk Wallace, 17, of West Salem, died after he did not immediately surface from the water at Salmon Falls County Park.

According to Sgt. Don Parise with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, when medics arrived, bystanders had pulled the boy from the water and started CPR. Wallace was then taken to a hospital, Parise said.

Wallace graduated from West Salem High School June 4. According to Parise, his 18th birthday is in August.

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