It's always sad to read a tragic story, this one in Vancouver Sun yesterday is especially so. It should not have happened. Only if they knew the wave was coming and stayed away. It's so unnecessary . . .
Fighting a relentless Pacific current with a damaged right shoulder, Dale Clack pulled his 15-year-old son's arm from around his neck and said, "I love you, son, go get help."
Then he drifted away.
Clack, a 51-year-old Stony Plain, Alta., resident, was found dead Tuesday morning, less than a day after a wave swept him from the shores of a San Jose Del Cabo resort on the west coast of Mexico.
The medical examiner told family Clack had drowned, said friend Fred Fudger, whose daughter has been dating Clack's 15-year-old son Dakota for a year.
Clack was at the Hola Grand Faro resort for the wedding of his 23-year-old daughter Karchiri. On the second day at the resort, he was wading up to his waist with Dakota.
"A big wave knocked Dale down and pulled him out further," said Fudger.
"He yelled to Dakota, 'I can't touch the bottom and I can't swim.'"
A rotator cuff injury from work several years ago left Clack unable to swim, despite two surgeries to fix it. Dakota went after his dad. He reached him, but was unable to pull him to shore. The current kept pushing them out.
"Another wave took both of them out farther and farther. Dakota struggled for some time to get his dad back to shore," Fudger said.
Clack went under the waves. Dakota reached down and pulled his father up by the neck. Clack clenched his chest as his lungs filled with water. As Dakota pulled vainly against the wave, Clack grabbed his son's arm from around his neck, pulled it off and told his son he loved him.
"I think he probably knew he wasn't going to make it and if Dakota kept trying, Dakota wasn't going to make it," Fudger said.
After he finally let go, Dakota himself nearly drowned, struggling for nearly an hour to get back to shore.
Unlike those along the Caribbean coast, resorts along the west coast of Mexico — including Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta — are notorious for strong currents, said Lesley Paull, owner of Paull Travel in Edmonton. These areas are usually marked quite clearly, Paull said.
"You have to be careful where you swim. We always advise people going to Mexico to be careful of the red flags."
In February, a Calgary couple was holding hands with family members on a beach in Cabo San Lucas, about 30 kilometres away from the most recent drowning, when a rogue wave washed them and their family into the sea. All except one were swept into the Pacific.
Dale McDougall, 62, and his wife Linda McDougall, 59, were killed.
Paull said the San Jose Del Cabo area isn't known to be as bad as Cabo San Lucas, but it's still dangerous.
Clack has already been cremated. Funeral plans have not been finalized.
The wedding will go ahead Thursday, though it won't be on the beach as planned. Clack would have wanted the wedding to go ahead, Fudger said.
Yes he would have certainly wanted the wedding to go ahead. But how can anyone be still joyful as a wedding should now! All it was was an unexpected wave at the beach -- and nothing is the same again. May God help the family to cope with this tragedy and bless Clack's soul, may he rest in peace!