City Lifeguard Dies During Rescue Attempt in Waters Off Newport Beach

A city lifeguard drowned Sunday while attempting to rescue a swimmer in the waters off Newport Beach, authorities said.

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Ben Carlson is seen in a photo posted on social media by the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Lifeguard Division. (Credit: @LACoLifeguards/via Twitter)

Ben Carlson, 32, had been a lifeguard for 15 years, according to Chief Scott Poster of the Newport Beach Fire Department.

The incident began shortly after 5 p.m., when a rescue boat identified a swimmer in distress near 16th street, Poster said at an evening news conference.

After Carlson entered the water and reached the man, both were struck by a large wave, the Fire Department said.

Other lifeguards at the scene attempted to assist Carlson, but were unable to immediately find him “because of the turbulent water, and up to 10- to 12-foot surf,” Poster said.

Twenty-five people from multiple local agencies ultimately entered the water to help find Carlson after he went missing, officials said. He was located at 8 p.m. and rushed to paramedics who were waiting on the Newport Pier, then transported to nearby Hoag Hospital.

The lifeguard was pronounced dead at the hospital. The swimmer, whom Carlson was attempting to assist, survived.

“It’s a brotherhood that’s very difficult to describe,” Poster said of the lifeguard community. “Unless you do it, you’ll never know what it’s like.”

Carlson “will be given all the honor and respect that comes with losing a member of that brotherhood,” Poster said.

The 32-year-old is the first Newport Beach lifeguard to die in the line of duty, according to the fire chief.

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the incorrect spelling for the fire chief’s last name. The story has been updated.

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