On Wednesday afternoon, an unidentified surfer was rescued at El Porto Beach in Los Angeles, and his condition is currently unknown. At 3:50 PM, with head-high surf rolling through the South Bay, county lifeguards responded to a single-person ocean rescue in front of Tower 42 in Manhattan Beach and were able to make a save with the help of a good samaritan surfer and an off-duty lifeguard who was also headed out for a surf.
“Our lifeguard made contact with the victim, who was conscious,” said Captain Eric Howell, Ocean Lifeguard Captain of the LA County Fire Department on Thursday. “He began to pull the victim out of the rip current but while returning to shore the victim went unconscious.”
And that’s when the situation made a turn for the worse very quickly. By the time they’d returned to shore, the victim had stopped breathing and was foaming at the mouth. Multiple lifeguards began CPR and continued on the beach until Manhattan Beach Fire arrived and took the victim to the hospital.
A first responder on the scene said the victim had no pulse and had not regained consciousness by the time MB Fire had left for the hospital, several minutes after he’d lost consciousness in the water. Wednesday night, a representative from Manhattan Beach Fire Department told The Inertia they couldn’t confirm details of the victim’s condition or identity, citing patient privacy. As of Thursday afternoon, both L.A. County Lifeguards and the Manhattan Beach City Clerks Office were unable to offer more details about the unidentified surfer.
Howell pointed out that the department was pleased with how their lifeguards responded to the situation, saying that they’d made all the right decisions and acted quickly under the circumstances. The waves on the beach that afternoon were mostly overhead with no channel or lulls – conditions that are pretty common when a sizeable Northwest swell hits the area. “There’s a canyon out there [starting near 32nd street] that gets a lot of West and Northwest swell,” Howell said, pointing out that this makes for some of the largest waves in Los Angeles under Wednesday’s conditions.
“We were doing the right things. It seemed like a normal, single-victim rescue, and while they were swimming in he lost consciousness. There’s no way to tell what happened. We don’t know if he had an underlying medical condition.”
Howell told The Inertia that Wednesday’s incident should be a reminder to surfers of three things he regularly stresses: “You always want to check in with the lifeguard for current hazards and ocean conditions. Always swim and surf in front of an open lifeguard tower. Also, surf and swim within your ability.”