NEWPORT BEACH, CA - A lifeguard drowned while trying to rescue a swimmer Sunday off a Southern California beach, authorities said.
Ben Carlson, 32, was pulled from the water around 6:30 p.m. by fellow lifeguards following a frantic 90-minute ocean search, Newport Beach Fire Department Chief Scott Poster said.
Poster said the 15-year department veteran went into the water to help a swimmer in distress when they were hit by a 10-foot swell. Carlson went under water, and the swimmer made it to shore safely.
"It was just an utter tragedy to lose a man of that caliber in the water today," the chief said, noting that it was the first time ever that the city has lost a lifeguard in the line of duty.
The National Weather Service had issued a coastal hazard warning of dangerous rip currents and high surf along Southern California beaches. The weather service said some beaches saw up to 8-feet high surf.
Los Angeles County firefighters rescued a 25-year-old man who was caught in the waves off Rancho Palos Verdes and high tide breached a sand berm in Long Beach.
The lifeguard's death came on the same weekend a swimmer was bitten by a shark off Manhattan Beach.