A man died and three other people were seriously injured late Wednesday after they were swept into the ocean by powerful waves while hanging out on a break wall in Redondo Beach, fire officials said.
It is unclear what the group was doing on the wall at King Harbor, but shouts for help began about 11:13 p.m., said Division Chief Mark Winter of the Redondo Beach Fire Department. Fire officials believe strong waves pushed the group from the break wall into the sea, then back into calmer waters in the harbor.
A Harbor Patrol boat responded, and a rescue swimmer dove into the ocean to tend to two women and two men, who were found at the bottom of the break wall. The men and women were in serious condition, he said.
“They were clinging to rocks,” Winter said.
As the rescue swimmer worked to gather the group, strong surf pounded against the rocks and swept over the group, pushing them out to sea once again.
A rescue boat eventually reached the rescue swimmer and the group and loaded them onto the boat.
The women and a man were taken to an area trauma center to be treated for various injuries. The other man was declared dead onshore.
Firefighters try to keep people off the break wall, but they can’t stop them outright because it’s not against the law. It is not uncommon to find people fishing there at night, Winter said.
“We do our best to advise people to stay off the break wall,” he said.
Two sets of long-period waves were headed to the West Coast this week, triggering high-surf advisories for Central and Southern California beaches through Thursday evening, according to the National Weather Service. Surf could reach 14 feet near Ventura Harbor.
Forecasters warned that the dangerous surf could cause beach erosion, produce sneaker waves and strong rip currents. The next round of strong surf is expected to pound the coast next Friday and Saturday.
Swimmers were advised to never turn their backs to the ocean, stay off rocks and stay back from the water.
For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA