Perilous Weekend Waves Subside After Claiming Seven Lives in State

Times Staff Writer

Wild weekend waves that claimed the lives of seven Californians calmed Monday and should remain relatively quiet today, as the search for two of the victims continued off Point Mugu in Ventura County.

The high tides, heavy swells and occasional 8- to 10-foot waves caused trouble on virtually all south-facing beaches, and Los Angeles County lifeguards reported making 433 rescues, the highest number for any weekend this year.

Jeanne Veenstra, 20, of Newport Beach was the weekend's first victim. She was wading with friends in the ocean just off Newport Beach on Saturday, when she was knocked down by a powerful wave and pulled under water. Friends dragged her to shore but resuscitation was unsuccessful.

Ventura Coroner-Investigator Robert Boyd said Uk Sop Yi, 52, of Gardena apparently was knocked down and carried out to sea by a 10-foot wave at Point Mugu about 7 p.m. Sunday. Hee Su Byeon, 45, and Nam Sang Han, 39, both of Los Angeles, plunged into the swirling water in an attempt to rescue the first man and were themselves carried away.

One of the bodies was recovered about an hour later by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, but it had not yet been identified. The Coast Guard called off its search for the other two men, but a Ventura County sheriff's helicopter continued search patrols Monday.

"The ocean is very unpredictable, very dangerous at Point Mugu Rock," Boyd said. "It is dangerous because the waves come in calm sets and then one big hell-wave comes along and knocks you down. And there is a terrible undertow."

He estimated that as many as a dozen people have been swept to their deaths from the same rocky point in the last 20 years.

In Northern California, two San Jose men and a woman were carried out to sea and lost in two separate incidents Sunday on beaches north of Santa Cruz.

Thu Buy Phan, 30, drowned Sunday afternoon off Scott Creek Beach when she tried to rescue her 9-year-old daughter. Her body washed ashore several hours later. The daughter was rescued by others.

The bodies of Marino Bariones and Jhun Pacpaco, both 33, were still missing Monday. The search for their bodies was halted Sunday night.

Witnesses said the two were rock-climbing at a beach near Davenport when one slipped and fell into the surf. The other jumped in to help but also was overpowered by the surf.

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