Authorities are urging the public to take caution in the waves, as the hunt for a San Lorenzo Valley teen who was swept out to sea continued throughout the week.
Cash Ebright, 17, was last seen body surfing in black swim trunks at Laguna Creek State Beach, near Davenport, just before 6pm Monday.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, California State Parks, the California Highway Patrol, Santa Cruz Fire and CalFire responded, but were unable to locate him as of Tuesday.
Ebright was the third person to be swept out to sea along a few-mile stretch of Santa Cruz County’s North Coast within eight days.
“While our coast is beautiful, it can also be extremely dangerous,” said Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Ashley Keehn. “We encourage people to visit and enjoy the views and everything it has to offer, but please do so with extreme caution.”
On Sept. 14, 30-year-old Chicago resident Conrad Mitko was swept off the rocks at Panther State Beach around 4pm.
“There was some long-interval swell,” said Gabe McKenna, the State Parks public safety superintendent for the Santa Cruz district. “It was difficult to access him.”
Mitko’s body was recovered around 6pm, just to the south of the main beach area.
Two days earlier, 26-year-old David Guzman, from San Jose, was pulled to sea near Davenport Landing Beach while swimming, authorities said. He wasn’t seen for days.
Then, on Sept. 18, Slava Korneev, a 39-year-old microfluidic-wave-scientist from San Jose headed to the county beach, to ride his hydrofoil.
“I was surfing, foiling, these little waves,” he said. “Then I saw something floating in the water close to the north part of the beach.”
At first he thought it was a dead seal. But when he paddled toward it, he saw it was clearly a human body.
Korneev wasn’t sure if he should pull it to shore, or not.
“A set wave came, and I tumbled in the wave with that body,” he said, adding he quickly decided to head to shore and seek assistance.
Korneev didn’t have cell phone reception, but he spotted a man fishing on the beach.
“I asked the fisherman to call the police,” he said.
After the man took off by motorcycle, Korneev looked for the body again, but it had drifted out of sight, he said.
By the time the fire department made it to the beach, the current had brought the body to shore, according to Korneev.
“It unfortunate that I met this human in such circumstances,” he said, noting the incongruity with the majestic oceanic scene, as the tide pushed in. “This beautiful picture was broken by this discovery.”
McKenna said it’s important to respect the power and unpredictability of the ocean.
“As we move into the fall and the winter, the occurrences of large northwest swells increase,” he said. “Never turn your back, and know your limits.”