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Paddle boarder chased by boat, arrested in Malibu after flouting coronavirus closures

A man paddle boarding near the Malibu Pier was arrested Thursday after authorities said he disobeyed lifeguards and violated a statewide stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A man paddle boarding near the Malibu Pier was arrested Thursday after authorities said he disobeyed lifeguards and violated a statewide stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic.
(Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department )

A paddle boarder was arrested Thursday after ignoring lifeguards’ orders to get out of the ocean near the Malibu Pier despite beach closures amid the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said.

County lifeguards patrolling the shore by boat tried to get the man to come ashore. Despite repeated orders to exit the water, the man continued paddle boarding for at least 30 minutes. Lifeguards eventually flagged down Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who responded by boat to help, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Video of the incident taken by bystanders along the shore and later posted to social media shows the man paddling toward the pier while being pursued by lifeguard and sheriff’s boats.

The man, who was not identified by authorities, eventually made his way to the beach, where he was arrested on suspicion of disobeying a lifeguard and violating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, a misdemeanor. Photographs from the scene show the man in handcuffs being led down the beach by two deputies.

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He was booked at a sheriff’s station in Calabasas and released on a promise to appear in court, sheriff’s officials said. The man faces a fine of $1,000 or six months in jail, or both, if convicted of violating the state order.

While many police agencies have taken an educational approach to keeping people off the state’s coastline, this isn’t the first time someone has faced consequences for being in the ocean.

A surfer in Manhattan Beach was fined $1,000 last weekend after he was accused of similarly ignoring warnings by police and lifeguards cautioning him not to go in the water. It’s not clear how many people in the region have been arrested for violating the governor’s order.

While nonessential businesses that say open may face sanctions, the LAPD said rumors it was ticketing people for exercising outdoors are untrue.

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Staying at home was somewhat slow to catch on, with people packing beaches, parks and hiking trails in the early days, a move that eventually forced officials to order closures. Public health officials say beaches pose a threat by drawing large crowds of people who congregate too closely and could easily spread the virus.

The California Coastal Commission, the gatekeeper of the state’s landmark law that deems access to the beach a fundamental right, has allowed local officials to put up temporary signs and barricades citing the need to protect public health and safety.

Kim Prather, a leading atmospheric chemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, told The Times this week that she fears SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could enter coastal waters and transfer back into the air along the coast.

“I wouldn’t go in the water if you paid me $1 million right now,” she said.

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Times staff writer Rosanna Xia contributed to this report.


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