Helicopters and scuba divers searched the shoreline near Point Mugu on Sunday for an off-duty Navy officer who failed to come home Saturday from Mugu Rock, a notoriously hazardous surf-fishing spot.
The wife of Petty Officer 1st Class Edwin Loder, 39, reported Sunday that her husband had gone fishing on the tiny, wave-battered peninsula about 7 p.m. Saturday, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.
The tide there comes in fast and hard, and it is not uncommon for waves to knock people into the surf--and into the strong riptide moving away from the rocks, said Lt. Mike Gullon. Loder might have been swept away, he said.
Mary Loder told sheriff’s deputies that she found her husband’s car and fishing tackle at Mugu Rock at 8 a.m. Sunday, but there was no other sign of her husband, Gullon said.
Loder, a Navy air traffic controller assigned to San Nicholas Island, is “a real good swimmer,” his stepdaughter, Sharon, said in an interview.
By about 10 a.m. Sunday, the Sheriff’s Department and the Navy had put helicopters into the air, divers into the surf and searchers out along the coastline in hopes of spotting Loder.
Sheriff’s divers called off their search at 4:30 p.m. when the heavy surf became too dangerous. The Navy helicopters continued their search until 5 p.m.
Sheriff’s officials said they would decide this morning whether to resume their search.
“It’s getting real bad out there in the evenings--you have undercurrents, riptides, the whole bit,” Gullon said. “We have a lot of people drowned in that area. If you’re close to the ocean and the rocks are slippery and a wave comes in, it’ll carry you away, especially if you have heavy shoes and equipment.”
Investigators did not know if Loder was wearing boots or wading gear. He was last seen wearing jeans and a denim jacket.
Mugu Rock, a 500-yard spit of loose boulders jutting into the ocean from Pacific Coast Highway, is an extremely dangerous place to go surf fishing--especially on an incoming tide when the fish are plentiful, local anglers said Sunday.
Anglers fish there for cabazon, calico bass--and sometimes halibut or sand bass if they can cast as far as a sand bar offshore, said Tony Dacosta, owner of Action Tackle in Ventura.
“That’s the best time to fish, in the incoming tide,” Dacosta said. “The plankton gets washed in, the bait fish eat the plankton and the bigger fish eat the bait fish.”
But at the time Loder was reportedly fishing, the tide was rising toward its 8:53 p.m. peak, Dacosta said.
“There’s a pretty bad undertow in that area,” Dacosta said. “The waves crash up onto the rocks and no matter how good of a swimmer you are--usually these guys are wearing chest waders or boots--it would take you down like a bag of cement. It’s a pretty famous local area where guys get washed away.”