The fog was gathering as 84-year-old John C. Davis fished Thursday afternoon.
Davis--or Jack, as neighbors called the retired Point Loma resident--loved fishing with a passion. A neighbor, Meredith Larsen, was strolling along the shore when she recognized his 20-foot power boat leaving the harbor "and I thought, 'Oh, there goes Jack on his Thursday fishing bout,' " she recalled.
What happened next, according to a deputy coroner, is that the fog spread, cutting visibility to 25 yards; the surf swelled, shaking and tossing his tiny boat. And suddenly, Jack Davis was thrown into the sea he loved.
At 2:30 p.m., lifeguard Steve Harns spotted cushions from Davis' boat floating in the surf off Santa Clara Place in Mission Beach. Then Harns saw the boat heaving in the breakers about 50 yards offshore. Davis' body was floating nearby, about 30 yards from shore.
Harns and other lifeguards recovered the body and tried to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but Davis never revived, Deputy Coroner Chuck Bolton said. Davis was pronounced dead at Sharp Cabrillo Hospital.
"We're really stunned," said Larsen, who lives near the Bangor Street home of Davis and his wife Ida. "He was a fantastic man . . . an idol to the neighborhood . . . . He's always been neat with the kids. We've always admired Jack, he was so sturdy for that age.
"He used to go to Baja and other places fishing. He loved fishing with a passion."
Larsen said the Davises have a son, a daughter, some grandchildren, and at least one great-grandchild.