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Florida man dies fulfilling dream to surf off Huntington Beach

Dana Brown, pictured on a GoFundMe page set up to help pay for his funeral expenses
(Handout)

Dana Brown had a dream that one day he’d be able to drive the van he lived in on the other side of the country to Huntington Beach to surf.

He managed to make his way here from Florida, but was defeated by the waves he long had hoped to conquer.

Brown, 60, paddled out on Nov. 6 near the Huntington Beach Pier. As the waves swelled 4 to 6 feet and the sun began to set, he was slammed into one of the pier’s pillars.

A video posted online shows a group of surfers swimming to shore with an unconscious Brown. He died in a hospital four days later.

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Racheal Katz, a Florida resident, met Brown about four years ago in Cocoa Beach, where Brown had been living in his van with his father, George.

With his long white beard, Dana Brown looked to some like a crazed homeless man, Katz said, but she thought differently and introduced herself.

Katz was struck by the innocence of both Browns, and a friendship formed.

“Dana and his dad were innocent,” she said. “You don’t see innocent people any more, and you definitely don’t find innocent 60-year-olds.”

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Katz said that Dana Brown had deep religious convictions and would never surf on the Sabbath, no matter how perfect the waves were.

Brown spent a great deal of time caring for his aging father.

“When his dad got sick, he spent probably every day with him,” Katz said. “Dana carried him in and out of that van every day. He didn’t want him in any kind of an adult caring facility.”

Brown bathed and fed his father and spent most days reading to him in their van.

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When his father died in March, Katz said, Brown was heartbroken.

“They had a journey together, him and his dad,” she said. “The death kind of ruined what Dana believed.”

About six months later, Brown left Cocoa Beach on a journey to the Huntington Beach surf spot he had dreamed of.

On the way, Brown stopped in various areas, including Mexico, but Main Street was always on his mind.

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Nobody knows whether Brown caught a wave at the pier the day he was fatally injured.

“I hope he caught one great wave,” Katz said. “He died doing what he loved.”

Brown is expected to be buried next to his father in Cocoa Beach on Dec. 3.

benjamin.brazil@latimes.com

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Brazil writes for Times Community News

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