Friday, November 28, 2008

Tragedy at Point Mugu

According to Wikipedia, Point Mugu , California is a geographical promontory on the Pacific coast in Ventura County, near the town of Port Hueneme and the city of Oxnard. This famous promontory, Point Mugu Rock, has been featured in many many film shots. Here are two breath taking ones from Flickr by mcdeez and driko respectively:
Unfortunately this latest tragic news from Point Mugu is making rounds this morning with headlines like "Three drown at Mugu Rock" from Contra Costa Times among many others:

POINT MUGU - Three people were killed this afternoon when they were swept away by a wave at Mugu Rock in Ventura County, authorities said.

Five people were standing on a rock overlooking the Pacific Ocean about 2:30 p.m. when a wave crashed into them, knocking all five into the water, said Ventura County sheriff's Capt. Bruce Norris.

Three of the people - ages 17, 19 and 21, all males - drowned, Norris said. The other two -- a 17-year-old boy and a 27-year-old man, survived.

Associated Press also characterized the wave, expectedly, with this title "Rogue wave drowns 3 along Calif. coast; 2 survive" with no more details about the the wave.

LATimes's Jack Leonard added this description of the area and other details:
The area, a popular destination for fishing, climbing and sightseeing, has long been known for its danger as well as for its beauty. Earlier this year, high waves swept a 16-year-old boy off the rock as he was fishing with relatives.
Senior Sheriff's Deputy Julie Novak said strong currents make it very difficult for people to swim to safety if they fall on the treacherous rocks.

"It is just very dangerous," she said. "It's very deceiving. It looks like it's very calm, but if you do get knocked in, it's very difficult to get out of the water."

A storm had moved through the area a day earlier, but ocean conditions were fairly normal Thursday afternoon, said David Gomberg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

He said waves along the Central Coast were about 3 to 4 feet -- hardly dangerous conditions.

"This time of year, we can get a lot worse conditions in terms of winds and waves," he said.

Novak said the wave that hit the men was about 3 feet high but that the area's surf can be deceivingly powerful.
So at any rate, it is not clear whether or not that was really caused by a freaque wave. Nevertheless, it was a tragedy and our hearts and deep sympathy are with the family of the three young victims. How can we improve safety for these places?

Oh yes, before I conclude, I must mention this story reported in LATimes:
Kathryn Barrona said she took off her shoes and jumped into the chilly water when she saw one of the men floating face down. She managed to swim out and haul him back against the current and crashing waves, but he was already dead.
Miss Barrona deserves our ultmost respect and appreciation. The world is a better place no matter what -- it's because of people like her!


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Joan Kelly Magennis said...

We must always remember that while the sea is beautiful, it can also be cruel. The lives taken by the freak wave are to be regretted. Thanks for sharing the lovely pics.