Drowned teens 'two of our finest' young men

Drowned teens 'two of our finest' young men »Play Video
Connor Ausland, 18, and Jack Harnsongkram, 17, died Saturday when they were swept into the ocean and drowned.

EUGENE, Ore. -- The two Eugene teenagers killed on the Oregon coast are being remembered by friends and classmates as young men of leadership and compassion - and as two of South Eugene High School’s most admirable students.

“There really were two of our finest,” said high school basketball coach and Athletic Director David Hancock.

Connor Ausland, 18, and Jack Harnsongkram, 17, died Saturday when they were swept into the ocean and drowned.

According to Oregon State Police, the incident happened around 12:40 p.m. Saturday near Smelt Sands State Park. That’s where a group of South Eugene High School students had planned a retreat.

Lieutenant Greg Hastings with OSP said Ausland and Harnsongkram were trying to get close to the ocean when the water quickly rose and swept them into the ocean.

Authorities found Ausland’s body Saturday afternoon and found Harnsongkram's body early Sunday morning.

“There’s no reason this should have happened,” said Jack Carol, a longtime friend of both Ausland and Harnsongkram. “It’s just unfair.”

Both young men were finalists for South Eugene High School's "Mr. Axeman" pageant, a group of 10 male students who are selected as representatives for the high school.

Conner Ausland is remembered as an avid athlete with a passion for Ultimate Frisbee and basketball.

Jack Carol recalled why he’ll never forget Ausland’s last basketball game on Friday night against Willamette High School. He said Ausland went by the nickname “White Water” for how fluid he was with the three-pointers.

“On Friday I was like, ‘White Water coming off the bench,’ and he just like gave this big smile to the whole crowd and that was just really good. It was the last thing I saw him do,” said Carol.

Jack Harnsongkram was an avid member of the Axemen's Outdoor rock climbing program. Fellow students said they’ll remember Harnsongkram for his easy smile and natural leadership.

“Basically all he ever did was spread light,” said Carol. “Great guy, great leader.”

South Eugene High School officials said they do not know when or if a public memorial will be held.

Basketball coach and Athletic Director David Hancock said the memory of both young men will be honored at the next home game.