'Paddle Out' Honors Murdered Imperial Beach City Official
A month after an Imperial Beach city official was fatally shot on a surfing vacation in southern Mexico, more than a dozen of his friends and colleagues paddled out into the ocean at Imperial Beach.
Out past the break, just south of the pier, the surfers sat up on their boards and formed a circle. They interlocked hands and shared words about Douglas Bradley.
“What really drove him was his love for adventure, his love for the beach, his love for surfing," said Serge Dedina, the mayor of Imperial Beach and a fellow surfer.
Bradley had worked as the administrative services director for the city of Imperial Beach since 2013. Dedina said Bradley was great at his job, making the city's financial management more transparent and efficient.
"His passion for public service ... made a big difference in (Imperial Beach) to set our finances straight and make sure we had resources to re-invest in our community," Dedina said.
The surfers wore garlands of flowers known as leis. They pulled them off and threw them into the air, cheering and splashing water in celebration of Bradley's connection to the ocean.
Bradley had traveled to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo in late December to celebrate his 50th birthday riding waves. He was fatally shot after an argument at a bar. The details of the incident remain unclear but Mexican investigators have arrested a suspect in connection with the killing.
People who knew Bradley say he spent his free time chasing good surf, traveling to Nicaragua, Costa Rica and across Mexico.
The Huntington Beach native lived just south of the border in Playas de Tijuana with an ocean view. He had a bachelor's in finance from the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and a master's in business administration from Chapman University.
Bradley's death is not the first time a U.S. citizen was murdered while adventuring through southern Mexico. In 2014, a 32-year-old stock trader from New York was killed while riding his motorcycle through the state of Guerrero.
Dedina said it is imperative that the Mexican government address the escalating problems of violence in the country's tourist resorts, including Los Cabos and Cancun. Last year, Mexico's homicides reached a record level.
"We really have to make sure these areas are secure for tourists and for people who live there alike," he said.
Community members watched the memorial paddle out from the pier. Among them was Bradley’s older brother Martin, who doesn’t know how to surf but came down from Long Beach to watch.
“The leis, the paddling out was just fantastic," he said. "There were some stragglers and they just kept fighting and fighting to get out there and it just meant a lot.”
Earlier this month, Bradley's sister Cheryl brought their brother's body back to the U.S. The family had him cremated, and plans to scatter the ashes somewhere soon, potentially in the ocean.