Tropical Storm Marie is no longer considered a hurricane, but the weather pattern continued to create massive waves as high as 20 feet off the Southern California coast Wednesday. The associated dangerous surf conditions are believed to have contributed to the death of a surfer in Malibu.
Using a rescue board and the aid of other surfers, Los Angeles County lifeguards pulled an unconscious surfer from the water near Malibu Pier Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reported. Attempts to resuscitate the man were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
“We responded to an unconscious person in the water,” lifeguard Capt. Tim McNulty told the Malibu Times. Local surfer Steven Dunn said he contributed to the attempted rescue of the surfer, who is believed to be a middle-age male. “I helped them carry him up on the beach, and he was gone. He’d been under water way too long,” Dunn said.
Almost 200 individuals were rescued from the water in Los Angeles and Orange counties Tuesday, CBS News reported. “This is the biggest swell I’ve seen in 25 years,” said Joe Bailey, lifeguard chief at Orange County’s Seal Beach. “It makes it difficult to even bring a victim back in through the surf. It’s so large that we are having to take victims to certain parts of the beach where the surf is way less.”
The monstrous surf has reportedly caused flooding in low-lying areas along the coast. The California State Parks system was forced to close Malibu Pier Tuesday after it was damaged by the waves.
Despite the danger posed by Marie and the explicit warnings by officials to stay out of the ocean, surfers have flocked to Southern California’s beaches to experience the big waves. Surfer Joshua Magner described being in the water as life-altering, the Associated Press reported. “It’s like being born,” Magner said. “You don’t know what the outcome will be, but when you do make it through, all that pressure is alleviated, it’s liberation, truly the feeling of liberation.”
Still, Magner admitted he was afraid of the dangerous waves. “I was scared leaving my house. Dude, I was scared last night. I couldn’t sleep,” he said.
As of Thursday, Tropical Storm Marie remained about 800 miles away from the coast of southern Baja California in Mexico. The storm is traveling at about 15 mph. However, it is not expected to touch down in mainland California, AP said.