It was a tough day at Ocean Beach Wednesday. The San Francisco Fire Department and the US Coast Guard responded to four — yes, four — reports of swimmers in trouble, and rescued three men, one of whom has died.
The first call for SFFD help was made at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, when rescuers were called to the area near Stairwell 20 (basically, a straight shot from the Beach Chalet). According to CBS5, 14 units were sent to the scene, where they found one distressed surfer on the beach, and another still in the water.
“We were searching for the person in the water. Eventually, we got him out," in a scene witnesses described as "frantic," Fire Battalion Chief Cherish Murdock told KCBS.
According to ABC7, the two men were a father and son from Daly City. Both were critically injured, an SFFD spokesperson said. One was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center and the other was taken to the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. The father has since died, KTVU reports.
At 4:55 p.m., crews were then called to the waters near the Cliff House, on reports of three distressed swimmers. However, when crews arrived, they discovered the three swimmers in the parking lot and sans distress, Paramedic Capt. Sebastian Wong says.
Wong says that a third call for a rescue was made at 6 p.m., when a witness reported still another distressed surfer. However, when SFFD and the Coast Guard sent a boat out to save him, he said he was fine.
Then at 7:45, the Coast Guard was again called to Seal Rocks, that outcropping near the Cliff House, after a man's fellow surfers said they had lost sight of him in the water.
According to Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Shawn Lansing, an aircraft and two boats were sent to look for the 24-year-old man. They found him standing on Seal Rocks with his surfboard, from which he paddled to one of the boats.
ABC7 reports that the man was hypothermic and badly battered, and was transported to California Pacific Medical Center.
According to the Coast Guard, Ocean Beach is presently experiencing high surf conditions that make the water "very dynamic," Lansing said. Beachgoers are urged to use caution, as all of the victims in Wednesday's rescued were experienced swimmers who nevertheless were overcome by the rough waters and treacherous tides.