LOS ANGELES (AP) — A surfer found off San Onofre State Beach in Southern California has been declared dead, as powerful waves pounded the state over the Labor Day weekend.
The Orange County coroner’s office confirmed that Russ Yamada was found unresponsive in the ocean near his surfboard Saturday afternoon. The 42-year-old surfer from Torrance was taken to Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in San Clemente where he was declared dead.
Sunday, waves around SoCal beaches were considerably smaller than their 20-foot highs. Despite the smaller sets, forecasters warned that rip currents remained an issue.
“When you get max sets to 6-feet you can still have some pretty dangerous rip currents and that’s probably just as dangerous as the high surf itself,” said National Weather Service forecaster David Gomberg.
The rough surf was caused by the swell from a powerful storm in New Zealand, where waves were reported as high as 50 feet. The surf created dangerous swimming conditions in California over the holiday weekend and beachgoers were warned to swim near lifeguard towers.
Earlier in the week lifeguards rescued two dozen people on Los Angeles County beaches from Marina del Rey north to Topanga on Wednesday. The search for a body-boarder who vanished near Huntington Beach was suspended.
The powerful surf was also blamed for forcing a smuggling boat to crash on a Southern California beach with more than 500 pounds of marijuana. State park rangers found the abandoned boat split in half on the rocks near Point Mugu, northwest of Malibu.
On Friday there was some coastal flooding in Capistrano Beach in Dana Point, where a woman was swept off a jetty by the high surf. Ten foot waves forced the closure of two Orange County beaches after damaging a wooden boardwalk and some steps at Capistrano Beach and crashing onto the parking lot of Aliso Beach in Laguna Beach.
By Sunday conditions improved enough that both beaches were expected to be reopened, agency spokeswoman Marisa O’Neil said.
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