Powerful surf hammered the San Diego-area coastline for a second straight day today, continuing a spell of spectacular but unforgiving waterfront conditions that contributed to the death of a tourist and necessitated several ocean rescues.
About 10:45 a.m. Thursday, lifeguards were dispatched to aid two men in their 20s who had jumped into the breakers at Sunset Cliffs and gotten caught up in the churning waters, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
The personnel pulled one of the men from the surf, SDFRD spokeswoman Monica Munoz said. The other man had to be hauled off a steep bluff he had managed to reach.``Because of high surf, lifeguards and firefighters performed a cliff rescue to get (him),'' Munoz said. ``Fortunately, there were no injuries that required hospitalization.''
A Nevada man who ventured into the roiling ocean at the mouth of the San Diego River was not so fortunate.
At about 2 p.m. Wednesday, Gregg Owens, 64, chased his two dogs into the violent surf in northern Ocean Beach, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office. Owens was able to get the canines back to shore safely before being dragged back into the sea by a large wave and slammed into a rock outcropping, the county agency reported.About 20 minutes later, lifeguards found Owens floating face down roughly 75 yards from shore. Medics took him to UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest, where he was pronounced dead.
The hazardous ocean conditions prompted the National Weather Service to issue high-surf and small-craft advisories, both effective through 10 p.m. Thursday.
Meteorologists warned that entrances to harbors, particularly Mission Bay, would be difficult to navigate over the period due to breakers large enough to capsize boats.
Among the dangers posed by the rough seas were strong rip currents, coastal flooding and shoreline erosion, according to the NWS.
The city of San Diego announced Wednesday morning that the Ocean Beach Pier would be closed until the waves crashing underneath the landmark structure -- and sometimes washing over its pedestrian decks -- diminished to safer sizes.
The intensity of the surf was expected to slowly subside toward more typical levels Thursday afternoon and evening, forecasters said.
Photo Credit: Sara Bartlett