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Surfer found dead off San Onofre as high waves pound coast

September 4, 2011 |  8:37 am

Weather Story (click for larger image)

A surfer was declared dead after he was found in the ocean off San Onofre on Saturday as Southern California beaches continued to experience high surf and dangerous rip currents.

The National Weather Service said the high-surf advisory will continue through Sunday afternoon, though waves will be smaller than in previous days.

Late last week, high surf flooded some beach parking lots and streets, producing waves of 10 to 13 feet along Newport Beach and 20 feet at the Wedge, also in Newport Beach. On Sunday, waves could top 6 feet, officials said.

Photos: Surf's up

"You should have very good, strong swimming abilities and fins if you're going to even think about going in the water at this point," Section Chief Garth Canning of the Los Angeles County Fire Department's lifeguard division told The Times on Thursday. "Most of the surf that we're seeing up and down the coast is beyond most people's ability."

Swimmers should talk to lifeguards before entering the water to make sure it is safe, Canning said, because even 5- to 6-foot waves can have a face that is up to 10 feet high. If you get stuck in a rip current, swim to the side to avoid being swept out to sea.

The high surf came from a southwest swell that originated off the coast of New Zealand.

The circumstances of the surfer's death were not clear. San Onofre was experiencing high surf when the body of Russ Yamada, 42, was found near his surfboard around 4:30 p.m.

The Orange County coroner's office told City News Service that Yamada was taken to Saddleback Memorial Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.


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