Transient Stabs Lifeguard, Flees
A barefoot, unshaven assailant who demanded money attacked a veteran county lifeguard at Santa Monica Beach with a corkscrew on Tuesday, inflicting a four-inch cut before fleeing across the beach and up the stairs into Palisades Park, authorities said.
Terry Hearst, 34, was treated at a hospital for a slashed abdomen and released. The 15-year lifeguard also strained his back when he tumbled seven feet to the sand from a watchtower when the attacker lunged at him.
It was the third time in three weeks that transients have accosted lifeguards on the beach, officials said. The guards in two previous incidents were not injured.
Hearst was confronted about 8:30 a.m. when he opened his guard station about three-quarters of a mile north of Santa Monica Pier. The long-haired assailant, described as between 25 and 30, twice asked Hearst for money and then lunged when the lifeguard asked him to leave the tower.
“It’s a wonderful situation,” said lifeguard Lt. Dick Heineman, with more than a hint of sarcasm. “We’re trying to protect them and they’re stealing from us.”
Santa Monica police and lifeguards said transients have grown more militant as their numbers have steadily increased on beaches in the past two years.