MEDFORD, Ore. -- Hours after the earthquake hit Japan, a tsunami hammered the Oregon Coast and would have swept a Medford couple away if it wasn't for the help of strangers.
"My muscles are sore from trying to keep my head above water," said Maria Pichette, who was battered by the Pacific Ocean and the tsunami wave that dragged her out to sea. "The next wave that came just went right over the top of me and smashed me against the wall of the rock."
Last weekend, Pichette, her boyfriend and another couple headed to the Oregon Coast for a relaxing camping trip. Unplugged from the rest of the world, they were oblivious to what was happening in Japan.
"We never heard any tsunami sirens, nobody mentioned to us that there was the earthquake in Japan," said Pichette.
Friday, they headed toward Myers Beach, one of the most photographed beaches in the world. But within minutes, their excitement turned into terror.
Pichette battled eight-foot tsunami swells, and wrestled the fierce tide to keep her from being sucked out. Just on the other side of the rocks, waves knocked down her boyfriend and his sister, dragging them out to sea.
A man sprinted into the surge and swam out to save the 22-year-old woman. She inhaled a lot of water and hypothermia began to set in, but thanks to the help of strangers, they all survived.
"We have infinite thank yous, and I don't think anything we can say or do to tell how much we appreciate what they did," said Pichette.