NEWPORT BEACH (  —  Newport Beach has stepped up to honor the lifeguard who died there while making a rescue.

Tonight, that effort continued with a huge fundraiser on the beach.

CBS2’s Adrianna Weingold attended the event and reported that, “the community has been supporting the Carlson family as well as the lifeguards who keep these beaches safe.”

A large group marched to lifeguard headquarters to say a personal thank you.

Dressed in red, holding signs that said “We Heart NB Lifeguards,” a rowdy, and boisterous crowd made their way to the pier.

They came to pay tribute to Ben Carlson, the 32-year-old lifeguard who died on July 6th while saving a swimmer in turbulent 8-foot waves.

“From the time of Ben’s accident through today the support from this community has been just overwhelming,” said Ben’s father, Chris Carlson.

Many of the people at the event never met Ben, including Susie Elmore.

Weingold said Elmore spent weeks organizing the memorial march — her children even set up lemonade stands to help raise money.

The money donated is going to the Ben Carlson Memorial and Scholarship Foundation, a fund his family set up in Ben’s honor.

Saturday was the first time Susie had the chance to meet the Carlson family

“They had a big smile on their face and I think they really felt the love and appreciation — not just for Ben but for all of the Newport beach lifeguards,” said Elmore.

Ben’s close friends and lifeguard family were also on hand, reflecting on their dear friend and the incredible impact his life and death had on the community.

“This community’s support is incredible. I’ve never seen anything like this in 41 years working here,” said Battalion Chief Jim Turner.

“Hits you really in the heart you know, so it’s awesome, it’s awesome that stuff like this happens, it’s a shame that it takes stuff like this for it to happen,” said Ben’s good friend Chris Conway.

Weingold reported the event was a  bittersweet thank you from a stranger to all of the lifeguards who continue to risk their lives for others, and a special tribute to Carlson, a veteran life guard who this community says they won’t soon forget.

“He was an all out guy, he was all in no matter what he did and it showed the way he lived his life,” said Ben’s father.

The Carlson family says they hope to use the foundation to help find ways to increase beach safety.


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