Ben Carlson, a Newport Beach lifeguard since he was 17 years old, drowned trying to save a swimmer on Sunday. The 32-year-old man is the first lifeguard lost in the line of duty in Newport Beach in 100 years.
At about 5 p.m., Carlson went into the water and reached a swimmer who got into trouble in the area of 16th Street when they were hit by 10-foot waves, according to Newport Beach Fire Department Chief Scott Poster. The swimmer made it back safely, Poster said.Carlson, however, disappeared. Jennifer Manzella, public information officer with the Newport Beach Police Department, said about 25 people were in the water searching for at least 90 minutes, and 30 others searched along the shore. Air support flew overhead. They were unable to find him because of the "turbulent water."
He was found in the water shortly after 8 p.m. and pulled aboard a boat but could not be resuscitated.
"He just loved being out on the water, he loved the opportunity to help people," his father, Chris Carlson, told the Associated Press. "He was a water monster — that was one of the things that was so unbelievable to us; a lowly 10-foot wave would take him out because he was so experienced."The chief said rescuers gathered together after Carlson's body was recovered to console each other. The lifeguards, 80 of whom were on duty throughout the day, rescued about 200 people from the waters that day, according to Rob Williams, the city's chief lifeguard, and they issued 3,000 warnings to people.
About 100,000 people visited the beach that day.
- City News Service