Patrick Watson was in the right place at the right time — again — Saturday at Aliso Beach Park in Laguna Beach.
Except this time it wasn’t an exhausted swimmer who needed help, a scenario that played out 10 years ago for Watson at the same beach, but rather a woman and her baby.
Watson, 46, of Mentone, was skimboarding about 11 a.m. with his 18-year-old son, Danny, when he heard a family member scream of “baby.” When he looked, he saw that a woman had been hit on the backside by a rough wave and a baby had fallen out of her arms and into the surf.
“I ran as fast as I could,” Watson said in a phone interview Wednesday.
The ocean was rough, with 4- to 5-foot waves breaking close to shore, and no lifeguards were on duty, Watson said.
“It goes from really deep to really shallow quickly,” he said.
Watson scanned the water’s surface and spotted what he thought was the top of the baby’s head.
“I thought something was down there,” Watson said.
He dove into the surf and eventually grabbed what he thought was a diaper, noting the telltale crinkling sound. He felt secure then that he had the baby girl.
Watson said the infant was in the water for 20 to 25 seconds before he found her.
The baby didn’t move immediately, but as he walked onto shore, her scream filled the air.
“I was so thankful to hear that sound,” Watson said. “The Lord was there with us.”
The mother “was shaking, pretty much hysterical,” he added.