A lifeguard drowned while attempting to rescue a swimmer who was caught in the high surf and having trouble making it back into shore. Ben Carlson, 32, a 15-year veteran of the Newport Beach Fire Department, lost his life when a huge wave took him under, along with the swimmer he was trying to save, according to MSN News on July 7.
Carlson went out to the swimmer who was struggling when a huge wave hit the two, taking them both under. Carlson didn’t surface, but the man he was trying to save did make it back to shore.
A frantic three-hour search was immediately underway in the heavy swells, which were up to 12-feet. Carlson was pulled from the water about 8 p.m., three hours after he was taken under by the wave. His lifeless body was pulled from the ocean and brought back to shore, by then it was too late to do anything for the veteran lifeguard, according to the New York Post.
This is the first lifeguard to lose his life on Newport Beach since the day lifeguards became a daily fixture on this popular beach. Fire Chief Scott Poster said “It was just an utter tragedy to lose a man of that caliber in the water today.”
All the years that Carlson risked his own life to save others came to an end with one last rescue attempt. His fellow lifeguards and firefighters were devastated over the loss of this “nice guy” who would “give you the shirt off his back,” which are some of the things people he worked with had to say about him.
This rescue attempt came during a time when the National Weather Service had issued a warning of dangerous rip currents for Newport Beach and surrounding areas. They had also issued a high-surf warning. Firefighters had another rescue off Long Beach during the high surf warnings.
This swimmer was caught in the waves off Rancho Palos Verdes. He was rescued off a sand berm, which the waves had breached. The day before the lifeguard died, a man was taken out of the water of Manhattan Beach after he was bitten by a great white shark. That shark had been on a fisherman’s line when the swimmer was attacked. The man attacked by the was saved and is recovering at home.