Teen and parents drowned attempting to save dog

ABC News reports that a Northern California teen and his parents both drowned after a 'sneaker' wave swept their dog into the sea. The teen attempted to help and got into trouble, his parents went in after him. The dog managed to return safely to shore.


  1. I’m going to screen-capture this story so I can send it to people who send me links about dumb/poor/dark-skinned African/Asian/etc villagers who drown while trying to rescue their only rooster from the village well (the bird, of course, always comes out alive).

  2. He jumped in the ocean to save his wife who jumped in the ocean to save her son who jumped in the ocean to save his dog, but I don’t know why the dog jumped in the ocean.

    1. A bunch of guys died on an Australian navy ship attempting to deal with an engine fire. Every rescuer died until the captain put a halt to rescues and dealt with the fire from outside the engine room.

  3. I couldn’t watch anyone I loved drown, without trying to help them.  Gods bless them for their attempts.

    1. With all due respect, the devil is in the details of “trying to help them.”  It’s one thing to be a trained lifeguard, or to have enough sense to throw a float out, look for a boat, etc, rather than jumping into extremely dangerous waters.   It’s analogous to the absolute rule: get out of a burning building and let the trained firemen rescue the others.

      1. With all due respect, you seem to be under the false impression that there was a lifeguard/float/rescue boat present at the scene. There wasn’t. Nor was any such help available within a reasonable distance of the scene.

        This was a simple case of two parents who chose to take a desperate chance to save their child (one which sadly failed) rather than keep themselves safe and watch him die.

      2. If it were my dog, Carl, I wouldn’t have looked left or right for someone more qualified and better equipped to rescue my dog; I’d have gone directly into the water.  We don’t have children; he’s it, and he’s a fearless little scamp, which is why he’s always on a leash.  I hope never to be in the position that family was in, but had no problem empathizing with why they acted as they did.  There’s little point in second guessing them.

  4. I read about this yesterday. If you break down the sequence of events the family doesn’t really look especially stupid, just desperate. The teen risked his life for the dog, but teenagers are often impulsive. The parents risked their own lives for the teen, but few parents would be able to stand aside and watch a child drown.

    Sad story all around.

  5. Does the fact that I find this story somewhat ironic and funny, in a dark humor sort of way mean I’m a bad person? Maybe I just read too much Onion.

      1. Well, empathy for people who exist, for you, only as abstractions learned about in a brief line of text is mostly intellectual rather than emotional, unless you have a very vivid imagination (but then you are really empathizing with the basically fictional characters in your head who probably have no resemblance to the actual people). A person could find the story darkly funny but then feel sad if they saw a news report that interviewed surviving family members, for instance.

          1. No, I don’t care what you feel about me. I just find self-righteousness annoying, so I thought I’d point out why your judgy mcjudgington attitude here is silly–basically because you’re holding people to a psychologically unrealistic standard so you can condemn them. Do you feel a surge of sorrow and empathy if I tell you that in the last minute, somewhere in the world some person has died in a car accident? It’s true, you know! And if you don’t feel the same empathy for this person that you supposedly do for the people in the brief news item, then you aren’t meeting up to your own standards.

          2. which would make you endlessly sad – because there’s a sad story happening at every moment in the overpopulated world. Perhaps it helps explain the heightened depression of our new era – the truly depressed are those who are exceptionally empathetic

      2. Nah, that’s not it.  Black humor is a natural part of the human condition (as if there could be an unnatural part), and on a certain level it’s a coping mechanism.  I’m reminded of the afterlife waiting room in Beetlejuice.  Next to the dude with the shrunken head I can imagine this family seated forlornly on an uncomfortable bench, and muttering to themselves, “Goddamn you, Fido.”

        My eldest brother had a heart attack while surfing.  Fortuitously, there were a couple of EMTs surfing nearby, and they dragged him to shore and managed to get his heart started again.  As it turned out, however, his heart had been stopped too long, and my brother’s brain was too damaged for him to recover, so a few days later, we pulled the plug.

        We cried a lot about that, but we had to laugh, too.  See, he was a devout Christian who put a lot of stock in the idea that the Lord would provide, which partially explains his lack of health insurance.  So if he had been closer to shore (or not surfing at all), he probably would have survived.  If the EMTs hadn’t been there at all, he would have died right there in the waves.  Instead, he hung on for five expensive unreimbursed days in the ICU.  Didn’t make any subjective difference to him; he never regained consciousness after falling off his surfboard.

        If you can’t laugh at stuff like that (which happens all the damned time), then life will probably end up being too depressing to bear.

        1. We decided some time ago, that when we died and if there is a heaven, we wanted to go wherever our dogs went after they died. 

          I can’t imagine there is a separate heaven for dogs, because for those of us who have loved our canine friends, ‘people heaven’ without dogs would be much less than perfect.  (Although it may the judgement of dogs, that an all-dog heaven would be preferable.) 

          I’d be sitting on the bench and muttering with worry that I’d been judged too evil to join my husband and our dogs in the afterlife — not condemning Scooter for not being a better swimmer. That would be hell.

          1. The hell of it is, if Scooter really weren’t a better swimmer, he’d be right there on the bench next to you.

            He’s a good dog!

  6. Louis CK does a routine about how he hates pets, mostly because of their short life span. “Look, I’ve brought something home that is going to make us all cry in a few years.” Now, change cry to die. Creepy to think about. I miss my cat.

      1. I’ve thought about that too, but a parrot seems like a lot more fun. They can live a long, long time and talk to you!

        1. I’ve heard that they’re too smart to be left home alone 8 hours a day, and that this is a reason there are so many foul-tempered parrots being returned to stores or turned over to shelters after relatively brief periods of ownership.

          Though the answer might be just to buy two parrots.

          1. Caveat emptor.  Those birds live an uncomfortably long time if you don’t absolutely love them.  There was a great This American Life story about a woman devoted to her murderous macaw, and the hell her family lived with, wishing they could somehow outlive the damned thing.

          2. Friends of my parents had pure bred siamese cats and african grey parrots, a pair of each. I’ve never seen pets so devoted to killing each other in my life. If the cat was on your lap, the parrot would attack. If the parrot was on your shoulder, the cat would launch itself at you. Terrifying and hilarious and an incrediably equal battle, neither side ever won or lost ground, ever.

  7. The really shameful thing here is that this sort of thing is so common in America. Here in the UK, everyone learns to swim at school; some amount of swimming is compulsory every year of school from about ages 7 to 15, which pretty much means that even the most nervous, weakest swimmer picks up enough to be okay in the water. It’s a target of the national curriculum that a child age 10 can swim 25m unaided – only about 2/3 of children meet that target, but that’s still a big number with five more years of swimming to go. I was definitely in the nervous category until I was about 12 or 13, and I didn’t swim again for ten or so years after school stopped forcing me, and I still learnt enough to blunder my way through a triathlon recently.

    So for me, it’s really hard to understand how stories like this come about, where entire groups of children, teens, and their parents all can’t swim, and tragedy is the result. Why can’t they just teach it at school?

    1. Just because someone drowns doesn’t mean they never learned how to swim. This didn’t happen in a swimming pool—there were 10-foot swells and strong currents involved that would have been challenging to any swimmer.

    2. As an experienced competitive swimmer, I can say with full confidence that even a competent swimmer can find themselves in trouble very quickly in rough open water.  These people did not have goggles and were likely fully clothed.  The beach is also described as steep, meaning the sea floor drops off very quickly.  It is possible that this family expected to be able to wade 15 or 20 feet into the water and were surprised when they found how quickly it got deep.  All it takes is 1 ill-timed wave to get a lungful of water.

    3. Sneaker waves are a big problem on the Northern California coast.  They are extremely strong, extremely large waves that come out of nowhere.  Even cautious beach-goers and strong swimmers can be swept very quickly out to sea and sucked under the waves due to a very strong “rip-current”.  I’m not exactly sure how they are caused and why they are mainly a problem in the Pacific Northwest, but I do know that most beaches around here post warnings about them.  Even with a warning, they are sometimes impossible to avoid.

      1. And it always bears repeating — when caught in a rip current, never try to swim against it directly back to shore; the water is stronger than you (even if you’re a UK swimmer). Instead, swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of the current, and then make your way back to shore.

    4. This is rather nonsensical victim-blaming. And adequacy at swimming in a pool does not equate to swimming in rough, churning surf.

  8. Am I a bad person if I think this is kind of the opposite of all those stories of dogs rescuing their owners?

  9. If you’re itching for other great stories, a couple of pilots died in an air crash in Oregon yesterday – the wing fell off! I’m sure we could get some good witty comments about the ridiculousness of it.

    1. Well, yeah — maybe doing a conscientious run through the safety checklist pre-flight, and having scheduled maintenance done would have helped?  (You didn’t post a link so I can’t see what does or doesn’t apply here) 

      1. I think you’re missing the point of why I’d suggest this also would be a “wonderful thing” news story to post

        1. I suspect that the reason they stopped is that practically every single time they posted something dark or gross or whatever, someone in the comments would make the same complaint about it not being a “wonderful thing”.

  10. So the dad threw the stick for the dog who got swept out by the wave when he went for the stick. The son jumped in after the dog to save the dog. The dad who threw the stick to the dog who got swept under the wave who’s son jumped in to save the dog jumped in after the son. The mom who was at the edge of the sand got pulled in (I didn’t read where she jumped in, just got swept out? Maybe another source has a different version of what happened to the mom). The sister of the brother and daughter to the mom and dad along with the son’s girlfriend were both on the shore watching it all happen. The mom and dad were found shortly afterward and the son is still missing.

    After all that the dog rolls up, “Hey, where’d everybody go?”

    Life is pretty crazy, enjoy it while you can.

Comments are closed.