Coast Guard, Pillar Point Harbor Patrol rescue surfer in distress

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Coast Guard and the Pillar Point Harbor Patrol rescued a distressed surfer off of Dunes Beach, Half Moon Bay, yesterday.

The Coast Guard received a report at 5:23 p.m. of a 32-year-old male that had gone missing while surfing off of Dunes Beach. The Coast Guard notified the Pillar Point Harbor Patrol and issued an urgent marine information broadcast. Crews from Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco and Station Golden Gate were also launched to respond.

Within minutes, a rescue boat from Pillar Point Harbor Patrol of San Mateo County arrived on scene with members of the Coastside Fire Protection District to commence a search for the missing surfer. Operating in near darkness, crewmembers used spotlights to scan the area for any signs of the missing surfer in the midst of breaking waves that reached 12-feet.

Approximately 300-yards offshore, the crewmembers spotted the surfer treading water amongst the breaking surf. The surfer was safely recovered and taken ashore with no major medical issues.

“The on-scene weather last night was one of our main concerns as the swell was in excess of 12-feet,” stated Mr. John Draper of the Pillar Point Harbor Patrol and crewmember on board the rescue boat. “Additionally this rescue occurred at dusk off the beach in shallow water,” Draper stated.

The Pillar Point Harbor Patrol plays a significant role in off shore search and rescue efforts in the Pillar Point area, executing over 110 search and rescue cases annually and saving on average more than 100 lives each year. The Pillar Point Harbor Patrol and Coast Guard train regularly together and work together on numerous cases each year.

“Our exceptional local knowledge of this area and the known conditions made it possible for us to perform this mission,” stated Draper, resulting in another lived saved over the holiday season.

Draper also stated, “I would like to thank all those involved in this case, especially the Coastside Fire Protection District and the Coast Guard for all the help they provide us.”

The Coast Guard urges all mariners and aquatic enthusiasts to exercise caution when out on the water. Given the seasonal high surf often experienced in the Bay Area throughout the winter months and immeasurable strength of the ocean, mariners are reminded to operate in a safe environment. Special consideration should also be taken when entering into the water later in the day given the shortened hours of daylight. In the case of an emergency, the added obstacle of searching in darkness further strains rescue efforts.

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