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Paddleout honors local diver, architect

A paddleout and services were held Thursday to remember a San Clemente man who died after diving off Laguna’s Picnic Beach on May 27.

Andrew Brislen, 40, was found tangled in a kelp bed about 200 yards offshore.

Michelle Brislen, his widow, organized the morning paddleout in his honor at North Beach in San Clemente. A service followed nearby at Ole Hanson Beach Club at 4 p.m.

She said she wants her husband to be remembered for his positive outlook, sense of humor and zest for life.


“He was a little kid at heart, and I think he brought that out in everyone,” she said.

She said he always put his family first and took time off from work to meet them for lunch or swim together at Laguna Beach High School. He was one test away from earning his architect’s license, his wife said.

Brislen was an architectural draftsman at Gregg Abel Construction & Design in Laguna Beach and held a master’s in architecture from Tulane University.

He last spoke to friends and family about 1:30 p.m. Friday, telling them he was off work early and intended to go diving near Diver’s Cove.


Authorities received a call shortly after 9 p.m. from his wife, who was concerned after not hearing back from him.

Laguna Beach police found Brislen’s car — his work clothing, cell phone and wallet inside — indicating he was possibly out in the water.

Around 10 p.m. there was a report of a flashing light near Monument Point about 200 yards offshore.

At 10:26 p.m., emergency responders from the city and county found Brislen entangled in kelp.

Although he was found in the kelp, it was not clear whether he struggled in that location or if his body drifted there, Marine Safety Chief Kevin Snow said.

When he was taken out of the water, he was not breathing and had no pulse, Snow said.

CPR was administered and he was taken to Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach.

Authorities were not sure how long he was in the water. Toxicology results have not yet been released.


Brislen is survived by his wife and two daughters, ages 5 and 7.