Malibu Pier Closes After Swimmer Dies in High Surf Area

Malibu Pier and several other beaches closed Wednesday after multiple people had to be rescued and one man died during a high surf advisory the previous day.

A surfer in Malibu was unconscious and in the water when rescuers got to him Tuesday morning, and he later died, Capt. Eric Howell of the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Lifeguard Division said.

The official cause of death had not been determined as of Wednesday morning, but the man died during a high surf advisory that predicted 10 to 15 foot waves.

The advisory was in effect Tuesday through Friday at 6 p.m. for Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Orange County beaches.

Although swimmers and surfers were advised to stay out of the water, professional surfer Laird Hamilton said some people are “just driven to do it.”

“Unfortunately there are some people who probably shouldn’t be in the water, but sometimes I think even when we’re out there and we think we know what we’re doing we probably shouldn’t be in the water either,” he said. “It’s something that’s inside of you and you have to go. Follow your calling.”

Among those who answered the call of the waves was a surfer who was captured on video by an overhead drone while “shooting the pier” — or riding a wave in between pilings — at Malibu.

The nearby beach was partially closed when a sewage pipe ruptured, prompting an evacuation of the water.

The pounding surf also damaged several beachfront houses in the area.

“My seawall failed, apparently,” said one homeowner, while standing on his balcony and recording a video of the outsize waves smashing against his property. “We’ve got a massive structure out there [in the water], floating. It looks like someone’s deck coming right for the beach.”

Sand berms were built to prevent flooding along Zuma Beach, where swimmers were warned about perilous conditions.

“Anybody that’s not experienced we do not want in the water today,” Howell said. “The south swell’s far too big.”

Over 100 people had been rescued by L.A. County lifeguards Tuesday, and more rescues were expected during the high tide peak on Wednesday.

Multiple roads near the infamous Wedge in Newport Beach closed as thousands of spectators flocked to the area to admire the 25 foot waves that touched down Wednesday, and live video captured a rescue in which four lifeguards and a distressed swimmer appeared to require the assistance of a boat.

“The surfers are beside themselves,” Hamilton said about the size of the waves.

Engineers planned to inspect the Malibu Pier as a safety precaution. It was unclear when it would reopen.

Other beaches scheduled to be closed until Friday included Portuguese Point, Sacred Cove and Inspiration Point.

KTLA’s John A. Moreno contributed to this report. Dual Hemisphere Media contributed video.

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