A father has drowned in front of his wife at a California beach while trying to save their two young children who got swept by large waves into the water and are still missing.
The tragic incident began unfolding just after 2pm on Sunday at Blind Beach in Jenner, California, as a six-year-old girl and her four-year-old brother were playing in the sand by the water’s edge under the supervision of their parents.
A high surf advisory was in effect along the coast at the time due to strong rip currents and swells of up to 24 feet.
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A 40-year-old man drowned at Blind Beach in Jenner, California, on Sunday afternoon while trying to save his two young children from being swept out to sea
First responders are seen standing on the beach during Sunday’s search operation
According to officials, the children were too close to the water when a waves pulled them into the ocean, reported KRON4.
Sonoma County Sheriff Lt. Michael Raasch said the siblings’ 40-year-old father jumped into the water after them and managed to grab hold of his son, but the rip current swept all three out to sea and caused the man to drown.
The victim’s wife and some Good Samaritans were able to pull him out of the water and begin CPR until first responders arrived, but he could not be saved. He was pronounced dead at the scene just after 3pm.
‘The waves are very treacherous,’ Raasch told KPIX. ‘Even very strong swimmers would have trouble getting out of the water.’
Children, ages 6 and 4, were playing by the water’s edge when massive waves swept them into the water. They are now missing and presumed dead
Rescue crews spent hours on Sunday searching for the missing brother and sister, but they only found a small jacket and shoes
Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies, helicopters, a US Coast Guard crew, California Highway Patrol officers, firefighters and lifeguards together launched a large-scale search for the missing children, which lasted hours but only turned up a small jacket and a pair of shoes.
The search was expected to resume Monday morning, with the objective to recover the children’s bodies. Officials with the sheriff’s office said the brother and sister were presumed dead.
Raasch said the family had only recently moved to Sonoma County from out of state.
Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman told The Press Democrat the drowning incident has taken an emotional toll on first responders, who are aware that the victims’ wife and mother had lost her entire family just three days into the new year.