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Newport Beach Lifeguard drowns making rescue


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Ben Carlson was a Lifeguard in Newport for 15 years, and is the first line-of-duty Lifeguard death there in 100 years.

 

It is horribly tragic to lose a Lifeguard like this.  I Guarded in Long Beach/Huntington Beach for over five years, and we NEVER even contemplated losing somebody; it's a dangerous job at times, but its something we never thought would happen.  

 

RIP, Ben.  Thanks for your service.  His friends and family have adopted the surf-culture saying, "Ben would go!"  To me, it means he wouldn't hesitate to help somebody as well as take-off on bigger waves.

 

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-lifeguards-drowning-death-20140707-story.html

 

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The ocean is so unpredictable. I used to surf and there were times I would get slammed under water and would have to fight to get to the surface for air. White water is the worst since you can't float in it due to the amount of air. You have to wait for it to rise before surfacing. If you get any in your lungs it makes you choke and you inhale more.

 

RIP Ben

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10 ft waves and a strong rip.

I grew up in Huntington Beach and in the ocean.

I've been in strong rips back when I was young and a strong swimmer. They can be pretty scary. Couple that with 8-10 foot surf and even the strongest swimmers can get in serious trouble. I understand that the swimmer he went to assist had his float, they had become separated...

 

I went out in 10 ft surf about 10 years ago, thinking I had been it surf like that so many times, no big deal...

I was lucky to make it back in, and I learned that I wasn't as young as I thought I was.

 

RIP to this guard...sucks to lose guys like him.

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I used to spend summers at the beach body boarding in HB and it could get brutal sometimes especially when there were a bunch of people who had no business in the water during high tide were trying to swim or play around in the break.  Think Las Vegas pool where it's people soup only it's the ocean with rip tides, strong currents and sea life.  Even an expert or a pro can get tossed around like a toy by the ocean.  Horrible story and my condolences to the family.  

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How does something like this happen? Did he get caught in a current or something? It seems odd that someone so experienced at his job and at swimming would drown like this.

 

That is the thing about the ocean.  It is completely unpredictable.  Tides, waves and currents can all do bad things to people.  That is why it is important not to be overconfidant when swimming in the ocean. 

 

RIP Ben.  Prayers to your family.

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10 ft waves and a strong rip.

I grew up in Huntington Beach and in the ocean.

I've been in strong rips back when I was young and a strong swimmer. They can be pretty scary. Couple that with 8-10 foot surf and even the strongest swimmers can get in serious trouble. I understand that the swimmer he went to assist had his float, they had become separated...

 

I went out in 10 ft surf about 10 years ago, thinking I had been it surf like that so many times, no big deal...

I was lucky to make it back in, and I learned that I wasn't as young as I thought I was.

 

RIP to this guard...sucks to lose guys like him.

We used to body-surf the Wedge all the time back in high school..  I also remember my LAST time out there even more vividly, when I decided I was out-classed and swam around the break and back to shore.

 

I made a rescue at the Colorado Lagoon (in Long Beach) once that, in hindsight, was pretty hairy.  I was the closing Guard; it was about 7PM in the summertime.  I saw a swimmer struggling just offshore, about 200 yards from our station (not un-common in Long Beach, as non-swimmers fall over the "drop-off" of the bottom all the time).

 

I took my phone off the hook (to signal Headquarters Dispatch that I was heading to an emergency), and hauled-ass to where the person was.  It took me about three pulls to get to him/her (I don't even remember), and shoved my buoy into his gut, under the arms.

 

That was when I felt a hand wrap around each of my legs in a death-grip.  I was no attached to the human-chain, and being pulled-under.  For whatever reason (training, experience, panic?), I went with the flow.  I got a good gulp of air, and went down to the bottom (only about 10 feet here).  Once at the bottom, I got underneath the last person (it was a three-person/family-chain) and started pushing as hard as I could.

 

I got lucky, because when I got back up to the surface for some air of my own all I saw was the family of three running out of the water..

 

It's true around EVERY body of water.  There are hidden dangers everywhere.  That's why they always told us growing-up to check with the Lifeguard before going into the water.

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I've heard come preliminary-rumblings about a possible "paddle-out" in Ben Carlsons' honor..  It may go-off this next Sunday; if I hear more about it, I'll post it here.  I think I'll wear a LB Police t-shirt with my old LB Lifeguard hat...

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Very sorry to hear about this.

 

In Florida we didn't get the kind of waves you see on the Pacific coast because the continental shelf goes out farther. Our biggest issue was rip currents. You couldn't see them, and they could pull you well out to sea before you knew what was going on.

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When I was 11 or 12 I was in a jr. lifeguard program at the beach. One of the things they taught us was how to swim through a riptide. It was tough work but it came in handy several times. It really gave me an appreciation for what lifeguards do, which isn't easy in the least.

Sorry to hear of this's guards passing.

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That was when I felt a hand wrap around each of my legs in a death-grip.  I was no attached to the human-chain, and being pulled-under.  For whatever reason (training, experience, panic?), I went with the flow.  I got a good gulp of air, and went down to the bottom (only about 10 feet here).  Once at the bottom, I got underneath the last person (it was a three-person/family-chain) and started pushing as hard as I could.

 

I wonder if something similar happened on Sunday.

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I wonder if something similar happened on Sunday.

That was my first thought too..  I've rescued a few very-panicked people.  We're taught to keep our distance until you get a feel for who you're dealing with.  If it's somebody trying to grip on you, we either push the buoy at them and un-tether ourselves to back-off or "rib" 'em with it, and swim down and away.  My girlfriends used to always question the scratches I'd come home with..

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That photo looks like its around 14/15th streets, which on a steep south swell like that weekend had, would focus a lot of its energy there. Plus that section of the beach is a little more sloped, creating more of a dangerous situation. 

 

How terrible.  It sounds like he was a terrific person. RIP Ben.

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If you get a chance to watch some of the youtube vids on the paddle-out, you'll get a feel for how HUGE the participation was...

 

I went-down and paddled-out with over 2,000 people.  It was amazing, and I'll never forget it.  In fact, I'll probably put some of story I'm writing-up here eventually.

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