Resident dies after body surfing at pier


Lifelong Huntington Beach resident Andrew Arnold, 54, died Nov. 5 after being injured while body surfing.

His death marks the end of three generations of his family working as Farmer’s Insurance agents at the Huntington Beach branch.

Arnold died after suffering unknown injuries while body surfing on the north side of the Huntington Beach Pier on Nov. 4, Interim Marine Safety Chief Michael Baumgartner said.

Arnold’s older brother, Tom, said his sibling suffered a neck injury, possibly from hitting a sand bar under the water.

Baumgartner said two off-duty lifeguards found Arnold’s body about 4:35 p.m. floating motionless in the water under the pier. He said no one saw what happened to Arnold.

Arnold was brought to shore and treated by paramedics before being sent to Hoag Hospital, where he later died, according to the Orange County Register.

“The surf wasn’t that big,” Baumgartner said. “He’s a guy that’s a regular. He body surfs there all the time.”

Longtime friend Jerry Person, 70, worked with Arnold, assisting with phone calls from insurance clients. The two met in the 1970s when Person opened an antique store next to the former location of the Farmers Insurance office on Main Street. The office is now at Beach Boulevard and Ellis Avenue.

“He was very likable and he rarely got mad at anybody,” said Person, the city historian. “He tried to help the people that he insured. He would go out on a limb to help them.”

Arnold’s grandfather started the Huntington Beach branch in 1946, Person said.

The city historian added that Arnold was a body surfer as a teen, but he put the hobby aside after some weight gain. Person said Arnold had recently taken it up again after having a procedure to address a heart murmur.

“After that, he got so much energy and took [body surfing] back up,” he said. “He also played in the Huntington Beach Concert Band. That operation really helped him out.”

Tom Arnold, 62, a former Huntington Beach police officer, said his brother loved the water and would body surf and fish off the pier as often as he could. He also had an affinity for Huntington Beach, Tom said.

“He loved every aspect of this city,” the brother said. “When you’re born and raised as a native, it really sticks with you.”

The brothers were Huntington Beach High School alumni and avidly watched varsity games together.

“He definitely loved the life he lived and was open and giving,” Tom Arnold said.

Andrew Arnold is survived by his wife, Barbie, sons Jesse and Drew and daughter Amy. A paddleout is planned for 8 a.m. Saturday at the Huntington Beach Pier. Plans for a memorial service have yet to be finalized.

[For the record, 1:43 p.m. Nov. 14: An earlier version of the story incorrectly reported that Andrew Arnold’s grandfather started the Huntington Beach branch of Farmers Insurance in 1964. It was actually 1946.]