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Fierce winds and surf spark warnings

March 17, 2008|By Joseph Serna

Newport Beach lifeguards increased their patrols Monday because of high surf and strong winds, factors that played a role in a teenager’s drowning over the weekend and two dramatic rescues last week, lifeguards said.

“We judge on a day-to-day basis,” Battalion Chief Rob Williams said. “It all depends on the weather and surf. The weather attracts the crowds.”

Lifeguards are not manning the towers yet, instead relying on the four or five who patrol the beach in trucks. Lifeguards will start setting up at towers around April 1 for spring break, Williams said.

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On Saturday a 17-year-old Claremont boy drowned after got swept up in the current near the 28th street jetty. Lifeguards saved two children who nearly slammed into the jagged rocks there last week and a police helicopter aided a rescue near Balboa Pier Thursday.

Cold weather reduces stamina and winter storms have made the sea floor unpredictable, lifeguards said. With staffing limited until the busier seasons, authorities urge everyone to practice as much caution as possible when entering the water.

“Check the conditions and if you’re not sure don’t go in the water,” Williams said.


JOSEPH SERNA may be reached at (714) 966-4619 or at joseph.serna@latimes.com.

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