Re: Wave sweeps 2 fishermen to their deaths off PV

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Posted by on June 07, 2005 at 21:56:09:

In Reply to: Wave sweeps 2 fishermen to their deaths off PV posted by Max Bottomtime on June 06, 2005 at 15:10:30:

Accounts vary, but survivor says wave washed one victim off rocks and a Hawthorne man tried to save him.

Two fishermen died in the high tide near Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes when a large wave pushed one of them off some rocks and into the choppy water, and another jumped in to try to save him, a family member of one of the drowned men said Monday.

The wave brought a tragic end to a Sunday afternoon fishing outing for an unidentified 42-year-old Los Angeles man and 38-year-old Hawthorne resident Carlos Javier Trejo, who both drowned in the surf. A third man, Cristobal Santizo, 38, also of Hawthorne, survived.

Although an official version of the events differed from what Santizo told Trejo's family, one aspect was constant: A large wave smashed against the men about 7 p.m. as they sat on the rocks.

Sheriff's deputies and Coast Guard officials said a wave shoved Trejo and the 42-year-old friend into the water, and Santizo ran to get help.

Santizo told family members that the wave knocked the 42-year-old into the ocean and he fell in trying to reach out to grab him, said Trejo's sister, Sandra Trejo. Trejo then jumped in after Santizo, she said.

"That was the way (Trejo) was," said Sandra Trejo. "No matter what, he always helped everyone else."

Lifeguards from Redondo Beach and Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro raced to the scene in rescue boats. A U.S. Coast Guard HH 65 Dolphin helicopter from Los Angeles headed toward the ocean.

Capt. Jim McDonald of Baywatch Redondo said Lifeguard Tom Barnett dived in with a rescue tube, swam to the 42-year-old man and brought him to the boat.

Cabrillo lifeguards arrived to help, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation as they headed into King Harbor in Redondo Beach. Paramedics took the man to Little Company of Mary Hospital, where he died. His name was not released until authorities can notify his family.

Coast Guard officers, meanwhile, spotted Trejo. Lifeguards loaded Trejo onto a basket, lifted him onto the helicopter and flew him to Point Vicente, where he was pronounced dead by paramedics.

The area is a popular spot for surfing and fishing. Lifeguards said trails lead down to a beautiful stretch of public beach.

McDonald said the tide often rolls in and traps unsuspecting people on rocks when the water surrounds them.

The surf Sunday evening was 1 to 2 feet, with an occasional 3-foot swell, lifeguards said.

"For a nonswimmer, the waves could be considered rough," McDonald said, adding it would be difficult for an experienced person to climb back from the water onto the rocks.

The 42-year-old man was found near a rock that "was basically a wall that came up maybe two feet out of the water. It was pretty much vertical," McDonald said.

Rodrigo Gonzales, a Long Beach resident walking along a trail at the time, said the ocean "seemed kind of rough."

"You could see the power of the water," he said.

At Trejo's home, family members planned funeral arrangements and tried to come to grips with the deaths. Sandra Trejo said the family considered her brother a hero. Despite the fact he could not swim, he dived into the water in an attempt to save his friends.

Neighbor Tania Oquendo said Santizo, who told them he climbed to safety, was in a state of shock.

He keeps saying, "It should have been me. It should have been me," Oquendo said. "He is traumatized."

Family members said Trejo, an El Salvador native who migrated to California 21 years ago and worked at a factory in Torrance, was devoted to his mother, two sisters and two nephews. He lived with his mother, Gladys.

"My brother was happy because of my mom," his sister said. "He was always there for her. He never left her."

He had been afraid of the ocean since childhood, but decided to join his friends at the last minute. When he arrived at the tide pools Sunday, Trejo told Santizo he was amazed at what he saw.

"My brother told him, 'This is a beautiful place. I don't know why I am afraid of the ocean,' " the sister said.

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