Veteran lifeguard drowns during weekend rescue

Julianne Cassidy

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Veteran lifeguard drowns during weekend rescue

By Julianne Cassidy. CREATED Jul 7, 2014

Newport Beach, California, lifeguard Ben Carlson, 32, drowned Sunday during attempting to rescue a man caught in rough waters. The 15-year veteran was the first in the department's 100 year history to die while on duty.

"Carlson entered the water about 5 p.m., near 16th Street, to rescue a man who got overtaken by rough water about 6-8 feet deep," reports CBS Los Angeles. "While making the rescue, Carlson was also overtaken by the rough rip tide. After being hit by a huge wave, Carlson went down and was not seen again until about 8 p.m."

More than 25 people searched for Carlson, creating a chain of human divers and frantically scanning the area on foot between jetties.

Hundreds of swimmers were saved by lifeguards over the weekend, including the man Carlson plunged into the deadly rip tide to rescue. 

During a somber news briefing, Newport Beach Fire Chief Scott Poster stated, “Today, it’s with deep sorrow that the Newport Beach Fire Department announces the on-duty death of one of our own.” Poster further described Carlson as “one of the good guys who was always smiling,” further reports CBS Los Angeles.