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Huntington Beach Search & Drowning Photos

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It was Mother's Day when a group of cousins from L.A. came down to the OC beach for a day of swimming and fun. Nobody ever thought it would be the last time they'd see their brother or cousin alive.

The ocean currents are fairly strong, the water can be cold (down to mid-50's) and the shelf may sometimes drop a little steeper than we know or suspect. So it happens just that quickly that one minute you are laughing with your cousin and friend, and the next minute they are gone forever.

On a Mother's Day weekend nearby Sunset Beach was holding its annual Mother's Day Art Festival. The music was playing, cars circling the greenbelt and down on the beach the crowds were fairly mellow just weeks before school let out and kids would soon start their summer ritual of trying out for Junior Lifeguards. The region that borders Bolsa Chica State Beach and Sunset Beach is known for its incredible currents that windsurfers enjoy.  The surfing nearby is often easy, and that's why they like to teach surf lessons at this location.

So it seemed like just another day until a frantic young man began calling for help from the water. He was OK, after moving away from a rushing ocean current that nearly went over his head. But his cousin was missing and had not resurfaced.  He was standing right next to him when it happened. Almost within reach. But suddenly his relative and friend was just gone.

Immediately lifeguards were called out but how do you find someone when you see nothing?  The entire surrounding lifeguard crew all joined together holding hands (once they arrived from various beach vantage points), to do a sweep. If someone needed rescue or was unconscious below, a sweep would help them find the person.  Minutes turned to hours. Divers arrived, helicopters swirled overhead hoping to catch a glimpse of the young man who couldn't swim too well, and who had disappeared in a flash.

They searched the entire day and evening until it got dark. The heart-broken family had to pile into their car and head back to L.A., to tell a mother on Mother's Day that her son disappeared in the water. 

The next day the young man's body washed ashore in Seal Beach near the jetty, just a mile or two south.  We share this information because it is important to know that the ocean is a dangerous place.  It can be fun and exciting, but it routinely takes lives, most often claiming those caught in rip currents who panic and can't escape.