Man free diving at Laguna Beach cove dies after suffering cardiac arrest

Ryan Huff, 40, of Lakewood died Saturday in Laguna Beach after suffering cardiac arrest at the remote Totuava Beach cove. He is pictured with his family in an undated photo.
(Courtesy of Lori Scott)

A 40-year-old man who was free diving in Laguna Beach died Saturday after suffering cardiac arrest, authorities said.

Laguna Beach lifeguards responded at 7:15 a.m. to Totuava Beach, where they saw a diver being pulled to shore by other scuba and free divers who were in the water, according to marine safety Capt. Kai Bond.

Totuava Beach is a cove between Thousand Steps Beach and Table Rock Beach that has no direct public access but can be reached by foot during low tides from the beaches to the north and south.

Lifeguards attempted lifesaving measures on the diver, who was identified by the Orange County coroner’s office as Ryan Huff of Lakewood. Huff was unresponsive, without a pulse and not breathing when paramedics arrived on the scene, Bond said.

Huff was free diving — without an oxygen tank and relying only on breath holding — at the secluded cove with two dive partners, according to Fire Department Division Chief Edward Valdez. The others noticed Huff was unresponsive underwater, Valdez said.

Huff’s wife, Diane, said her husband was at the cove spearfishing and wearing a weighted dive belt and that she was told a dive partner found him unresponsive at the ocean bottom before his two partners pulled him to the surface.

Paramedics found Huff in cardiac arrest and took him to Laguna Beach’s Mission Hospital two blocks from the beach, Valdez said.

Huff was pronounced dead just after 8 a.m. The cause of death is under investigation, according to the coroner’s office.

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3:22 p.m. Oct. 8, 2019: This article was originally published at 3:39 p.m. Oct. 2 and has been updated with additional information.