Junior Seau death: Surfers' memorial is one of many
A surfer paddle-out is planned to honor football star Junior Seau, who took his own life Wednesday in Oceanside.
The paddle-out, planned for Sunday in the waters near Seau's beachfront home, is one of several memorials taking place in Seau's honor. His home has become a shrine for fans, who have converged by the thousands, leaving notes and flowers.
Seau's family has expressed gratitude for the community's outpouring of support.
"Thank you so much," Tiaina Seau told a crowd of several hundred outside the home Thursday. "God bless you guys."
Sobbing uncontrollably, Seau's mother, Luisa, said: "There's so much pain. It's so hard."
On Friday, the city of Oceanside released a recording of the frantic 911 call made by Seau's girlfriend after she returned to his home and found him dead, with a gun nearby. Police did not release the girlfriend's name.
The dispatcher can be heard trying to get details from the woman.
"Is he breathing?" she asked, in a calm voice.
"I don't think so," came the quick, agonized reply.
The recording was released by city officials after local media made numerous Public Record Act requests.
Seau's girlfriend returned to the home about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and found him covered in blood in one of the bedrooms, a gun in the bed beside him.
"Oh my God, I need an ambulance," the girlfriend said, her voice thick with crying and heavy breathing. "Oh my God .... My boyfriend shot himself."
In the recording, the dispatcher advises the woman to attempt CPR on the former football star, and fire officials try to talk her through the procedure. "Help is on the way," said the dispatcher.
The woman said she had been at the gym and had only been gone about an hour. Asked where Seau had shot himself, she said she thought it was in the heart.
The medical examiner has confirmed that Seau, 43, a star player for USC and the San Diego Chargers, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.
Officials said plans were shaping up for memorials at a local church and at Oceanside High School, which Seau attended before enrolling at USC.
Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell told The Times' Sam Farmer about the decision to have Seau's brain donated for research.
"The family was considering this almost from the beginning, but they didn't want to make any emotional decisions. And when they came to a joint decision that absolutely this was the best thing, it was a natural occurrence for the Seau family to go forward."
Mitchell told Farmer that the family made the choice "to help other individuals down the road."
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Francis Sanchez says a prayer at a memorial of flowers and messages for Junior Seau. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times