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Surfer Found Dead In Water Off Sunset Cliffs

An undated map shows Sunset Cliffs.
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An undated map shows Sunset Cliffs.

A 56-year-old surfer died this morning after he was reported missing and later found face-down in the water off Sunset Cliffs near Point Loma Nazarene University, authorities said.

A friend reported him missing in the predawn darkness around 6 a.m. and emergency crews discovered him unconscious and not breathing in the water at 6:49 a.m., San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokeswoman Monica Munoz said. He was pulled onto a lifeguard boat and rushed to lifeguard headquarters in Mission Bay as emergency responders performed CPR for more than 30 minutes on the boat and on a dock outside the lifeguard station.

Despite the emergency medical intervention, the surfer died, Munoz said. The San Diego County Medical Examiner was notified and will determine the cause and manner of death.


The victim's friend told emergency dispatchers the pair was surfing in the dark when the victim took off on a wave and never reappeared. The friend later found the missing surfer's board washed up on shore, but there was no sign of his friend.

A large-scale search was soon underway involving SDFD lifeguards and firefighters, paramedics, San Diego police and the U.S. Coast Guard. Helicopters searched from the air while boats patrolled the water.

The victim was found in the water relatively close to land between the breaking waves and the shoreline. He was pulled onto a lifeguard boat, where two emergency responders performed CPR as the boat's pilot raced north toward Mission Bay.

Footage from the Quivira Court headquarters showed crews still performing life-saving measures on the man more than 30 minutes after he was pulled from the water, but those efforts ended around 7:30 a.m.

Waves this morning were about three to four feet and fair, which are not considered dangerous conditions for veteran wave-riders. According to the friend who reported him missing, the victim was a competent and experienced surfer.