Three abalone divers died in separate accidents over the weekend in Northern California. An abnormally low tide drew divers to the beaches where they were snagged by powerful rip currents.
"The surf was absolutely pounding on us," tactical flight officer and Sonoma County sheriff's Deputy Henri Boustany told the Press Democrat. Six state park officers and lifeguards were on duty along 40 miles off Sonoma County's coastline and came to the rescue of several divers.
The first victim, a 66-year-old retired firefighter, was found dead Saturday afternoon off of Shell Beach several feet below the surface. On Sunday morning, a 36-year-old San Francisco diver was pulled to shore after getting caught in a rip tide, but he couldn't be revived. And later Sunday morning, another diver was found dead snagged on rocks 15 feet below the water.
"It is the busiest we've been in that short amount of time with that many horrible outcomes," 12-year sheriff's helicopter pilot Paul Bradley said.