Surfer saved near Ocean Beach in dramatic nighttime rescue

Byby Tiffany Wilson via KGO logo
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
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ABC7 News was there when a surfer, who was feared dead, was rescued from Seal Rocks Wednesday night.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Wednesday evening a battered surfer, feared dead, was plucked from a rock in San Francisco. ABC7 News was there on the scene as the man was pulled from the water.

At Ocean Beach the dangerous and dramatic rescue took place. There were huge waves, spitting rain, wind, rocks and flares. At one point during the rescue they called in the fire department thinking someone might need to climb out to Seal Rocks to help. Then the incredible news came that the U.S. Coast Guard had the surfer on board.

One surfer made it back to shore, but his friend did not. The surfer called 911 and the U.S. Coast Guard sent a helicopter and boats to search the black waves. They found the 24-year-old man huddled against Seal Rocks near the Cliff House. Using flares for light, there was a dramatic rescue. The man is hypothermic, badly battered, but alive.

Sandy French is the friend of the missing surfer who alerted authorities. He told ABC7 News it was a "very scary moment, nothing I've experienced before, just happy he's OK now."

When we asked French what was going through his mind when he realized his fellow surfer was missing, he simply replied, "Panic."

After the surfer was found, he was taken to California Pacific Medical Center.

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, a surfer pulled a swimmer out of similar churning water. His father washed up close to shore.

Cherish Murdock from the San Francisco Fire Department said, "He was caught in the tides and we did have a couple of people go in and pull him out."

SKY7HD was there as firefighters attempted to revive him.

"His eyes were open they were rolled back in his head and he wasn't making any movements," witness David Powell said.

The father and son from Daly City are experienced swimmers. Now both are in critical condition.

Judith Sheridan swam in the same bruising waves. She said, "Where I was, there was a rip that took out three guys really far."

To thrill seekers these towering, twisting waves are part of the attraction, but make a wrong move and the water can be unforgiving.

"I kind of shut down, didn't really know what to do," French said.

Luckily French's friend got a second chance.