The Beach. Almost everyone loves a day at the beach. The Sand, the sun, the bathing suits. Families from near and far will pack up and spend an entire day just soaking up the sun and making an event out of it.
We are fortunate enough to live within driving distance to many of the beaches that line the southern California coast. Newmoms sister and her family live very close to the shore, you can see the ocean from their back balcony.
Last weekend newmom’s cousin and his two sons came to town to visit and get out of the Arizona heat. We all went down to their house to hang out on Friday night. During that night, we were told that they were going to set up at baby beach in Dana point, get out the paddleboards and make a long day out of it. Just show up when we are ready.
Saturday rolls around and newmom is feeling a little tired. The little guy asks when we are going to go to the beach with his cousins so I say to her “I’ll take him down, you relax”. We go ahead and pack up and head down to the beach. I drop the little guy off and he goes to find where our base camp is as I look for a parking spot. After I park, I find the base camp and the boys are all out on the paddleboards so it is just the little guy and I. Now the way baby beach is set up, it is near the harbor, so there is no real waves to speak of and there is an area for families to just enjoy the calm water and relax/beat the heat. The little guy asked if we could go over to the other side of the breakers where there are tide pools and rocks to climb on. I say yes, that would be ok and we start making our way over there. On the way we run into my nephew and Newmom’s Cousin. He said the boys were making their way to the shore and he was going to go check on them then come join us over by the tide pools. My Nephew decided to come with us. When we got over to the other section of Beach, I saw something I had never seen in all the times we had gone to this area of the beach. The waves were SUPER HIGH and very powerful. They were battering the steps, so there was no easy way to get to the beach, but the boys saw that if they went to the area behind steps where they could get the dry shore. So I told them they could go over there and I would join them. I waited between crashing waves and hopped over to the shore.
The boys were a little ahead of me and staying towards the rocks, far from the water. I was closer to the surf which was crashing in hard. That’s when I saw something that is going to be with me the rest of my life. I saw two people in the water. one of them didn’t look right. A huge wave crashed over them and the way it knocked them around I thought it looked bad. As the water cleared, the second person, the one who was upright screamed “Help me, Help my grandpa!” I immediately ran to the water with another guy who was not far from me and pulled him out of the water. He wasn’t moving and was not responsive. The girl, the other guy and I dragged him onto the shore and we got washed over by a wave, so we dragged him further up the shore, where we were hit yet again by another wave (told you it was strong). We lifted the body and dragged it even further where we started chest compressions and clearing his throat. As I held this guys head and looked at his face, I realized he looked a lot like me. Bald, goatee, a similar build but no life behind the eyes, it was very very unsettling. I turned his head and water and other stuff exited his mouth. I opened his mouth further and attempted to clear his airway. The other guy and I switched off on compressions and then two other gentlemen showed up and took over. Lifeguards and people from the oceanic institute that is right next to the area of beach where we were showed up with medical gear and took over. Shortly after that the paramedics and sheriffs were on site.
I took the granddaughter off to the side and sat her down. She was crying and I asked her to take deep breaths and look at me, not what they were doing to try to save her beloved grandfathers life. I took her hands and asked her to pray. We sat there on the beach and prayed for her grandfather, for the people who were working on him. AT that time her little brother came over, crying very hard. I sat him down and asked him to pray as well. The young girls mother came over and we all prayed. The little boy was sent back to his father who was waiting over by those stairs I mentioned earlier.
It was rough. We are praying for the team working on this guy who in my head I felt wasn’t going to make it. It was his time to go home to the lord. But I continued to pray.
The paramedics get the guy on a board, have him hooked up on a couple of devices and take him off the beach to the hospital. I asked the family to please call me to give me an update and they took my number. After I got up off the beach, I sat on a nearby bench and cried, HARD. After I was able to get myself together and give the police a statement, I started slowly walking back to our basecamp.
That’s when I saw my little guy. HE WAITED ALL THAT TIME FOR ME. He ran to me and just gave me what might be one the best hugs I have ever gotten in my entire life, if not one of the best, the most needed. So when the first guy and I ran to help get the body out of the water, someone yelled “clear out” and my nephew and the little guy followed those directions and made their way back to our basecamp. When he got there, he found my cell phone and called newmom and told her “Mom, you need to pray for this guy, I don’t know who he is but dad pulled him out of the water and working on him”. He then hung up and called my mother in law and said the same thing. I didn’t know this until later but it was amazing. After he made those calls, he went back as far as he felt comfortable and waited. we walked a little further and I sat him down on a set of steps by the institute and told him “I don’t think he is going to make it, so lets say a quick prayer for the family” and we did. As we started to make our way back to basecamp, he looked at me and said “Dad, God is holding our hands right now. He’s here with us.” I think that made me cry a little more. We got back to basecamp and I spent the rest of the afternoon just decompressing.
Later we packed up and went back to newmom’s sisters place and we spent time together with all of her brothers and sister and their families, along with the cousin and his two boys. I was pretty shaken. One thing newmom’s cousin said to me that really hit me was ‘God put a really good man there to help, and that man was you bro’ as he gave me a huge hug.
I did get a call from the family that confirmed that their grandfather/father did indeed not survive. My heart goes to the family and especially to that poor girl who had to drag her grandfather’s body God knows how far (she had cuts and bruises on her arms and legs). I pray that she finds peace and gets any help that she needs for this horrific experience. I can only hope that I was able to help (her mother thanked me for everything that I did, especially the prayers).
I couldn’t sleep for days. Every time I closed my eyes, all I could see were his eyes. It has gotten a little easier with each passing day. I cried multiple times a day for the first half of the week and I experienced severe anxiety. I understand now when people say that they experience severe anxiety. I have sought guidance and assistance for the feelings of anxiety and dis-ingenuiness (is that the right word? a real word?) I had while I was praying. I have spoken to the little guy to see how he was feeling about everything and he seems to be holding up alright, but when we spoke to him even yesterday, he did get sad and had tears in his eyes. Newmom and I are going to continue to watch over him and make sure he is ok.
Please, if you are not CPR certified, find a way to get that certification and know how to do it properly. When you and your family have a day at the beach, please be extra careful and of course, apply plenty of sunscreen.