Woman warns Pacifica beachgoers after husband drowns

PACIFICA, Calif. (KGO) -- Safety officials are warning surfers and swimmers to be alert and to act safe at all Bay Area beaches this weekend. Authorities say El Nino is powering the waves and will continue to make beaches dangerous through April.

The danger proved all too real on Tuesday in Pacifica, when a 61-year old man drowned while trying to save his wife who had been caught in a sneaker wave. Now we're hearing from the wife, who lived.

"I guess those guys just couldn't reach him fast enough," said Claudia Moore through tears. "He gave his life for me."

Related: GoFundMe account set up for Claudia Moore

On Tuesday, the 63-year-old lost her husband Larry to the turbulent sea in Pacifica. They had been walking along the beach when she decided to wade out into the water

"And suddenly there were three to four huge waves," she said. "The third one was up to my hips and the sand was gone under me and I fell."

RELATED: Pacifica man drowns trying to save wife swept out to big waves

She went on to say, "It was like 200 to 300 pound men pushing you down, and it sucked me under. I know that's when he ran after me."

The riptides were too much for the 61-year-old, who was a physically strong man.

"There's just no way even a strong man can get through that," said Claudia.

The Coast Guard sent two helicopters and a cutter. They spotted Larry and were able to pull him out.

A waiting ambulance transported him to Seton Medical Center, but it was too late.

Separated from her husband, Claudia was able to ride the swells back up to the top of the water. Two men swam up to her.

"Then they were able to get me out and I was able to get on my knees and we all crawled out, but it was very strong," she said.

Claudia hopes that by talking about her personal tragedy, she can prevent others from misjudging the seemingly placid waters.

On Friday, crews with San Francisco Fire Department, the Coast Guard, and the National Park Service staged mock rescues at Ocean Beach to raise awareness about the dangers.

They say this time of year is especially dangerous. And with the weather so nice, people who are not used to spending time around the ocean are likely to visit the coast.

"Stay out of the surf line, stay up as far out of the surf line as possible," said Captain Greg Stump. "And don't ever go on rocks. Rocks are the most dangerous things you can be on during this type of surf condition."

Safety resources
  • NOAA: Rip Currents - Don't get pulled in
  • NOAA: How to Avoid Getting Caught in a Rip Current
  • California Department of Parks and Recreation: Ocean safety tips
  • Prepare NorCal: Disaster preparedness resources
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