A life saver, hero, and Good Samaritan are fitting labels that come to mind when a human beings put their own lives on the line to save another. This past weekend, a near tragic event occurred at Aliso Creek with a little girl sinking into Aliso Creek and finding herself in a deadly position. If it weren’t for the help of photographer Larry Beard and Brennan Clarke, a family would have lost a precious child. It is interesting to note that Brennan in years previous was a big part of a collaborative effort with lifeguards saving a woman who was dragged out to sea in 15 foot waves at Aliso Beach. When you are around the ocean daily, dangers escalate quickly and the inexperienced often find themselves in the worst of conditions. There are a lot of people in the San Clemente, Dana Point, South Laguna and Laguna beach areas that routinely offer assistance to waders, swimmers, body surfers and wave riders when they are in trouble, and I am proud to be a part of this community and know these amazing people.
This is Brennan describing the near tragedy (with small grammar corrections by me ) in a Facebook Message to me:
“So Larry, myself, and a couple kids were digging the standing wave . There were kids running around playing, nothing out of the ordinary. Larry and I turn around to go to our cars. I was grabbing a board and Larry went to get his camera gear to set up. When we turned around we saw this little girl starting to sink in the creek. She was walking and started to sink into the deep section of the creek which was close to the start of the river. Larry sprinted forward with myself behind jumped into the creek and pulled the girl from the water, which by that time was submerged. She was surrounded by family, a lifeguard, photographers and wave riders, and literally no one noticed. One of the heaviest things I’ve seen was the terror on her face and her trying to keep her head above water because she couldn’t swim.”
Mother Nature is cruel and Aliso Beach in South Laguna, California is one of those places that can take a life with the blink of an eye. It is difficult to understand how a child that doesn’t know how to swim is in a
creek like Aliso, especially as it is letting out. That type of situation has disaster written all over it. I have spent a fair amount of time talking about the dangers of Aliso Beach from the nasty shore break waves it typically has and how parents really need to focus on their children there. I have also talked a fair amount about becoming educated on waves, wave conditions and rip currents. Aliso Creek is another story altogether, and when that thing is letting out it is extremely dangerous.
That a little girl was saved from a violent drowning in the turbulent waters of Aliso Creek is probably a miracle. One second longer and it was entirely possible a child would have left our world way too early. Nobody wants that to happen! What Larry Beard did was heroic, and it allowed this precious little lady to return home with family on a day that could have ended in the tragic loss of life. I don’t know what this girl was doing in the Creek, and she never should have been there. I am glad that Larry and Brennan were there because without them seeing her struggle in the water, I don’t think we would be talking about a happy ending.
Brennan also said: “She swallowed some creek water I’m sure and hopefully the family took the lifeguards advise and went to the doctor. A second later and I don’t want to think about what would’ve happened, but I can’t emphasize enough that she was surrounded by people from parents, family members, a lifeguard, and random tourists. No one noticed.”
I am pleased to end this harrowing story by saying I am glad that she was rescued and that people I spend time with in the water were there to make sure she got to go home with family.
Photo Credit: Larry Beard….the heroic lifesaver!