UK & World News

  • 26 November 2012, 20:23

Search Over For Teen Missing After Dog Rescue

The US Coast Guard has ended a search for a missing teen whose parents drowned when the family attempted to rescue their dog from the powerful surf in northern California.

Eureka residents Mary Elena Scott, 57, and Howard Gregory Kuljian, 54, both drowned on Saturday, said Ariel Gruenthal, a deputy coroner in Humboldt County.

The boy, 16-year-old Gregory James Kuljian, has not been found and is presumed dead.

Waves reaching 10ft (3m) high pulled the family's dog into the Pacific Ocean as it ran to retrieve a stick at Big Lagoon, about 300 miles north of San Francisco, authorities said.

Dana Jones, a state Parks and Recreation district superintendent, said Gregory went after the dog, prompting his father to go after them.

She said the teenager was able to get out, but when he did not see his father, he and his mother went into the water looking for him.

"Both were dragged into the ocean," Ms Jones said of Saturday's tragedy.

Rescuers eventually retrieved the mother's body, and the father's body washed up. The dog got out of the water on its own, Ms Jones said.

The couple's daughter called police, according to the Times-Standard.

Coast Guard Lieutenant Bernie Garrigan said the search for the missing teen had been called off because a person without a wetsuit could not survive long in the cold water.

Saturday was overcast and a bit damp, and the winds were light at Big Lagoon beach, a steep shoreline where the waves roll in and crash onto the sand, making the area dangerous, officials said.

Signs are posted near the beach car park warning beachgoers not to turn their back to the surf, and to pay special attention to "sneaker waves," or swells that can seemingly appear from nowhere and violently smash onto the beach, Lt Garrigan said.

 "Because the beach is designed that way, when that 10ft wall breaks, it surges up on the beach and surges back really fast," he said.

"It's like a cyclical washing machine."

Ms Jones said a park ranger had to run half a mile to get to the beach because his car was not made to handle the rugged terrain.

He was not able to get to the family members when he arrived because of the high surf, she said.

The Coast Guard deployed a helicopter and two motor life boats to search for the teenager, but the aerial search was previously suspended due to thick coastal fog.

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