Irvine Woman Swept Out to Sea



The county coroner identified the woman who was swept out to sea from the rock-covered shoreline north of Victoria Beach Wednesday night as Chia Wen Keh of Irvine.

An autopsy was conducted, but a cause of death is still pending, Supervising Deputy Coroner Larry Esslinger said Thursday. The woman’s body showed no signs of injury, he said.

A nearby good Samaritan who attempted to rescue her by jumping in the water himself also nearly drowned and had to be hoisted out by helicopter, marine safety Capt. Kai Bond said Thursday. The man, who was not identified, was separated from the victim by waves and was pushed back onto the rocks, suffering injuries and near drowning, said Bond.

The woman, 70, and her husband were walking along the beach and enjoying the sights, police Sgt. Jim Cota said.

A south swell with waves of three to five feet and increasing were hitting the area beneath the ocean-front historic Rockledge property where the pair walked about 7:30 p.m., said Bond, 45 minutes from a peak five-foot high tide at 8:15 p.m.

Several calls to authorities reported the woman’s predicament and seven lifeguards were on the scene starting their search in the water within seven minutes, Bond said. The woman’s body was recovered about 90 minutes later 100 yards offshore, farther south than might be expected due to the current and swell conditions, Bond said.

The Samaritan was transported to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo with moderate injuries, Bond said.


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