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Cal Fire CZU reports 3 deaths in 8 days near Davenport

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION) Over the past week, Santa Cruz County State Park teams have been on 3 missing person and bodies recovery missions in the 3-mile stretch of beaches near Davenport.

On Sunday, September 13, a 26-year-old man from San Jose was swept by the ocean near Davenport. He was identified four days later, but his body wasn't found until almost a week later, on Saturday.

The following Tuesday, on September 14, Cal Fire reported a rescue mission to find a 30-year-old man that went missing in Panther State Beach. He was found on the same day.

On Thursday, a 17-year-old swimmer also went missing on the coast of Laguna Creek Beach. He has yet to be found.

"There's a lot of strong currents, swells breaking on rocks, near the rocks, steep beaches, so it makes it very difficult for us as lifeguards to enter the water," Lifeguard Supervisor for California State Parks Eddie Rhee-Pizano said in a Cal Fire CZU video. "When you're in the water near rocks with strong currents, yeah, you're putting yourself at risk."

The video mentions that the ocean is constantly changing and ocean rescues are dangerous for everyone.

"A lot of folks have come in while the tide is out and gotten onto the rocks and then when they turn around and notice the tide has come back in, they're essentially trapped," Cal Fire Battalion Chief, Eric Bither said. "We're also putting at risk our rescuers."

On top of the changing tides and the strength of the ocean, Rhee-Pizano said that the water is so cold up in the area, it can numb your body and prevent you from being able to swim.

Cal Fire reminds people to stay off the rocks, go to beaches with lifeguards and respect the power of the ocean.

Rhee-Pizano adds, "It only takes one wave to surge over that rock you thought was safe and the next thing you know, you're in the water."

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Melody Waintal

Melody Waintal is the Digital Content Reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.

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