Ben Carlson, a 32-year-old Newport Beach lifeguard who had been on the job for 15 years, died Sunday during a successful rescue of a swimmer caught in treacherous surf off of 16th Street in the Orange County city. Newport Beach Fire Chief Scott Poster said it was the first fatality of a lifeguard there in more than 100 years.
Says the OC Register:
Carlson had gone into the ocean off 16th Street shortly after 5 p.m. to rescue a swimmer when both men were struck by a large wave, the chief said. The swimmer managed to make it to the shore, but Carlson went missing, with other lifeguard personnel unable to assist because of turbulent water conditions, according to a statement released by the city late Sunday night.
Carlson was found only after a search that involved several agencies and dozens of responders, including air support and up to 30 people on shore, including City Manager Dave Kiff, the city said.
“Ben was a well-respected individual,” Poster said. “He was there to help at every single moment. ... It was a tragedy to lose a man of that caliber today.”
Waves ranged from 6 to 8 feet all weekend, Poster said. The National Weather Service had issued a coastal hazard warning of dangerous rip currents and high surf along Southern California beaches.
Screen grab and video: CBS LA