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VENTURA : Search Fails to Find Surfer in Distress

An extensive four-hour air and sea search of the ocean off San Jon Road in Ventura was called off late Sunday after authorities failed to locate a surfer who may have become distressed in waves reaching as high as 10 to 12 feet.

A U. S. Coast Guard helicopter, along with a 44-foot rescue vessel, combed the turbulent waters but discontinued the search shortly after 9:20 p.m., according to Ventura Fire Department Battalion Chief Myles Smith.

Smith said authorities were contacted around 5:30 p.m. by surfers who said they believed that a surfer was trapped behind the surf line off San Jon Road.

“We don’t know what exactly happened,” Smith said. “It could very well be that the surfer came ashore and went home--but given how big the waves were, we didn’t want to take any chances.”

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Fire Department Battalion Chief Damian Schmidt said the search was triggered after reports were received that a surfer appeared hesitant to come in to shore for fear of the high waves.

Coast Guard Petty Officer James Bride said that at one point, the rough seas forced one of the service’s rescue boats to return to its Channel Islands Harbor station. A larger rescue vessel, better capable of working in high seas, was then dispatched.

When the search was called off, authorities were still not sure of the victim’s gender or identity. A search of the beach and nearby parking lots also failed to turn up any clues.


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