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Skimboarder Rescues Infant Swept to Sea

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Skim boarder Pat Watson rescues a child at Aliso Beach. Photos by Craig Brashier.

Quick action by a skimboarder is credited with saving a life after a big wave knocked a child from the arms of her mother on Saturday at Aliso Beach, according to witnesses.

Videographer Pat Watson, who was trying out a new skimboard, sprinted into the water after he saw a woman pulled off her feet by one of the bigger set waves sweeping the beach, said Victoria Skimboard owner Tex Haines, who was also on the beach.

Watson dove under water as the child was lifted to the surface by an upwelling and grabbed her just as they were hit by another wave, Watson told Haines.

“He lifted the child to the surface as he came out of it, knowing the infant had not had a breath for the last three waves,” Haines said. “He fought his way upstream in the rip and handed the child back to it’s mother.

“Quick action by Pat, and a lot of luck, or that child was gone,” Haines said.

“Quite an incredible act of heroism…,” added resident Craig Brashier, another witness, who was on the sand to shoot photos of his son, one of the skimboarders getting pounded by the unusually large shore break.

Three skimboarders who threw aside their boards to charge north up the beach caught his attention.

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“I wasn’t sure what was going on but started taking pictures,” said Brashier.

Aliso Beach is guarded by Orange County Life Guards. Spokesman James Watkins in Dana Point said he was unaware of the incident.

Without experienced watermen, who know there is no time to waste, the results could have been much different, said retired lifeguard Dale Ghere.

An insider’s knowledge of the break meant Watson could estimate accurately the depth and distance required to find a submerged baby in the churning whitewater. “It paid off,” said Ghere.

“It’s a classic tourist story of a clueless visitor who turns their back to the beach,” he said, recalling a similar incident at nearby Treasure Island Beach in the late ‘60s with a tragic outcome.

Then, a boy fell off Goff Island Pier and photographers in a nearby boat did nothing, recalled Ghere, part of dives teams that eventually recovered the body.

“Just the opposite happened here,” he said.

 

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Comments (6)

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  1. Emm says:

    “‘It’s a classic tourist story of a clueless visitor who turns their back to the beach,’ he said, recalling a similar incident at nearby Treasure Island Beach in the late ‘60s with a tragic outcome.”

    - If those were the words of a retired lifeguard, the words sound really arrogant and have no place in lifesaving. Maybe this is why OC is such a corrupt hole.

  2. Emm says:

    Oh and by the way, the skimmers are heroes.

  3. Karen says:

    Well done! That’s a terrible beach for inexperienced swimmers, thank God he was there

  4. Rick says:

    I believe an LB lifeguard would have been all over this and would have helped the skimmer rescue the child. Just saying LB lifeguards are a notch or two above County.

  5. Deb says:

    “- If those were the words of a retired lifeguard, the words sound really arrogant and have no place in lifesaving.”

    If you grew up in Laguna, you wouldn’t think that was an arrogant statement and instead recognize it as a fact. Tourists frequently are clueless about how dangerous the water can be, especially in shorebreak with a rip.

    “Maybe this is why OC is such a corrupt hole.”

    It’s always amusing to see those who cry arrogance ignore their own.

  6. Emm says:

    “If you grew up in Laguna, you wouldn’t think that was an arrogant statement and instead recognize it as a fact. Tourists frequently are clueless about how dangerous the water can be, especially in shorebreak with a rip.”

    - Locals are pretty clueless too. Lived in Laguna from the days at El Morro. I love how you’re claiming on people who you don’t think are from around here.

    “It’s always amusing to see those who cry arrogance ignore their own.”

    - Why are people from the OC so entitled? It’s the cash money Deb, the cash money! I’m glad you’re not “ignoring your own.”

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