Public warned after man swept away at Point Reyes


January 2, 2013 12:18:55 AM PST
Authorities have released the name of a man who got swept away and drowned at Point Reyes National Seashore Tuesday. They're also spreading the word on the dangers of sneaker waves which are seen often at Point Reyes beaches. They reach farther up the beach than normal, can catch people in rip currents, and even toss even large debris.

Around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, 59-year-old Charles Quaid of Richmond was out with his wife and dog for a New Year's Day walk when things turned tragic. A sneaker wave, also known as a rogue wave, came in and dragged his wife out. Quaid rescued her, but then their dog was dragged out. This time, when he went out to rescue the dog, he never returned.

Quaid's body was found around 4 p.m. Tuesday. His wife and dog are OK.

Some tourists from Minnesota were in the area Wednesday and acknowledged how bad conditions were the previous day. "We were at the beach when the tide was coming in, so we definitely didn't stick around for too long down there," Lisa Weggener recalled. "We were going to go down to the beach today, so I'll definitely be more cautious about getting too close to the waves."

Marin County officials call the beach the most treacherous in the area when it comes to sneaker waves because they come straight in from the Gulf of Alaska. "They're much larger. As the ocean changes, you can get lulls where they're will be small waves for a while. The ocean will look relatively small," said Marin County Fire Dept. Capt. Chris Martinelli. "Then, a large set of waves will come through, maybe five to ten waves that are much bigger than they have been for the last 15, 20 minutes."

Tips on how to avoid sneaker waves:

  • Never turn your back on the surf
  • Avoid slippery rocks
  • Avoid logs and debris