High surf makes for dangerous conditions on beaches

December 29, 2012 5:49:35 PM PST
Residents are being urged to use caution near the water -- we're under a high surf advisory until 10 p.m. The high surf and heavy winds during the day made for a busy day for first responders.

A rough day like this on Ocean Beach makes for a surfer's playground, until something goes wrong. A worried onlooker called 911 to report three surfers lost in the water beyond the break.

"In a situation like this with the surf is as aggressive as it is, we are going to use extreme caution before putting swimmers out there," SFFD Battalion Chief Rudy Castellanos said.

Fortunately, the Coast Guard was out taking advantage of the eight to 12-foot swells, running drills, and got to the men before emergency responders arrived.

"This particular case was just a surfer, one single surfer, out there just trying to take advantage of the large swells himself," Battalion Chief Castellanos said. "He was never in distress."

Nearly 30 responders were called to the beach for the false alarm. Battalion Chief Castellanos says mistaken distress calls come in all the time, but he doesn't want a moment of uncertainty to stop a call for help.

"We're surrounded by three sides of water out here in San Francisco," Battalion Chief Castellanos said. "The Fire Department takes surf and bay rescue very serious."

Along the coast, forecasters are warning people to be careful. The raging waters ruined the plans for some hopeful crabbers in Pacifica.

"Unfortunately we weren't able to," Fremont resident Jeremy Landicho said. "Actually, our crab nets got tangled up, and unfortunately we had to leave."

Sunnyvale resident David Olivas added, "I was on the pier, and it was shaking, and oh my goodness, it was just amazing. But, yeah, I'm glad to see the ocean and waves and everything, right."

Calmer winds and surf on Sunday will make for less exciting, but safer conditions for onlookers.


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