JENNER, Calif. — A 40-year-old man died after he tried to rescue his two young children who were swept away by a sneaker wave in Sonoma County and are now presumed dead, authorities said.

The mother told officials that she and her family were either near the water’s edge or partway in the water at Blind Beach in the city of Jenner when a wave knocked them over Sunday, Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman told the Press Democrat.

“The kids got swept in, so dad went in to get them and managed to grab his son but he, they were swept out and mom was knocked to her knees, but she was able to get out,” Baxman told KTVU-TV.

The father was recovered from the surf by his wife with the help of bystanders and someone performed CPR until rescue personnel arrived and took over but he was pronounced dead at the scene Sunday.

Both of their children, a boy and a girl aged 4 and 7, were still missing Monday. The only sign of them was a small jacket that washed ashore, Baxman said.

The family had just moved to Petaluma from outside the area, California State Parks officials told the Press Democrat.


Supervising Sonoma Coast Ranger Damien Jones said the water “was so churned up and just a foamy white mess, basically, so once people went in the water, it was very difficult to see where people were or what was happening.”

Authorities have not released any of their names.

On Saturday, a 48-year-old Southern California man fell off the rocks into the crashing surf below the Mendocino Headlands.

The man, whose identity has not been released, was in an extended family group snapping photos when he slipped, or most likely, was swept off the rocks near the base of the headlands as his horrified family watched, emergency personnel said.

More than 20 firefighters and state park personnel on the bluffs and others in jet skis aided the search and eventually spotted the man inside the bay, off Portuguese Beach, officials said.

Eventually, one of the jet ski crews was able to bring the man ashore, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

“The real tragedy was the victim’s family watching as a loved one was lost to the ocean,” Mendocino Fire Capt. Sayre Statham said. “We watched a horrified family get broken apart. We luckily got to go home and hug our families. I’m not sure if there are words that can give peace to the family, our local responders, or to stop this from happening again.”

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