The recently remodeled lifeguard headquarters in Newport Beach was dedicated Sunday to Ben Carlson, the only lifeguard to have ever died on duty in the area.
The 15-year veteran was 32 years old when he died while attempting to rescue a swimmer in the waters off Newport Beach on July 6, 2014.
At a ceremony honoring Carlson on Sunday, his father said he was proud of his son’s work.
“We look at them in the towers and think, 'wow what a great job,' and it is a great job, but they have a lot of responsibility as well,” Chris Carlson said.
Fellow lifeguards, as well as Carlson’s friends and family gathered Sunday afternoon at a dedication ceremony at the lifeguard headquarters.
The event was fitting because of Carlson's leadership and love for the job, Assistant Chief Lifeguard Rob Williams said.
“He was beyond his years in experience,” Williams said. “He transferred that information to the younger guards and helped us tremendously in mentoring and teaching lifeguards throughout his career.”
Carlson’s family said the show of community support was helpful as they continued to mourn the loss of their son.
“We’ve just been supported in so many ways, by the lifeguards, fire and marine, and this is amazing community. We really appreciate it,” Chris Carlson said.
The ceremony also coincided with lifeguard tryouts, which Carlson’s father said brought back fond memories.
Since Carlson’s death, his family, friends and fellow lifeguards have established the Ben Carlson Memorial and Scholarship Foundation, which provides scholarships and promotes ocean-water safety, according to its website.
They also plan to have a memorial statue of Ben Carlson installed during the summer in his honor. Its location is unknown, but Balboa and Newport Beach piers were proposed sites.