SAN PEDRO (CBSLA.com) — A man died Saturday morning while trying to save a teen boy knocked by a wave into the ocean.
Firefighters, lifeguards and paramedics were called to 3949 Stephen M. White Drive, near the Cabrillo Beach Pier, according to Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The incident began when a 41-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy were standing on a break-wall, a rocky jetty that is prohibited to public access.
Witnesses say there was high tide and heavy surf.
At around 7 a.m., a wave pushed them into the ocean.
The 41-year-old man managed to pull himself out of the water but the 14-year-old boy found himself struggling to get out.
A 35-year-old man nearby came over to help and managed to push the boy back toward the break-wall. Authorities say that the Good Samaritan was unable to get out of the water safely.
Another bystander pulled the 35-year-old man out of the water and a nearby fisherman administered CPR.
The fisherman told CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Joy Benedict that the Good Samaritan was unconscious and unresponsive. Paramedics transported the victim to a hospital and he was pronounced dead.
“Attempting to help…somebody that’s struggling is always a very dangerous situation. He either ingested a lot of water or hit his head,” Lt. Mike Capodanno of the L.A. Port Police told KNX1070 Newsradio.
The 14-year-old boy and 41-year-old man are said to be okay.
Witnesses say there may have been as many as four people on the break-wall at the time, but it was unclear if they were trying to help the ones in the water.
The break-wall where this occurred separates the Port of L.A. from the Pacific, and can sometimes be washed over by wakes from passing ships, or large swells from distant storms.
Photographer Bob Kulesh told CBS2’s Art Barron there was a beautiful sunrise and all seemed peaceful until tragedy struck.
“This is the wave that took them out,” Kulesh said pointing at an image he was able to take.
He said the older man seemed to be taking his own pictures of the teen when the wave hit.
Kulesh also said signs in the area warned people to stay off the break-wall.
He called the Good Samaritan — now identified as Francisco Melendez, known to friends as Pancho.
“He saved that little boy,” said Hugo Castellonos, who tried to give CPR to the Good Samaritan.