A theology graduate student likely died of a heart attack while surfing off Newport Beach, according to a friend.
Brian Cohee, 58, of Claremont died Thursday at Hoag Hospital after firefighters took him there in critical condition.
His friend, Min-Woo Shin, 33, said Friday that doctors at Hoag informed him that Cohee probably suffered a heart attack, but that an autopsy was still needed to confirm that.
Earlier that afternoon, Cohee had traveled down to West Newport near Highland Street and West Oceanfront with Shin. The two recently had finished their first year at the Claremont School of Theology.
They entered the water at Lifeguard Tower 71 about 5:30 p.m. for a second surf session, Shin said.
The strong currents caused Shin to drift, however, and he lost sight of Cohee.
"Then I saw his body floating on the water," he said. "He didn't have any leash on his surfboard, so the board was drifting away 50 feet from him. I called his name, and he didn't respond. I kept shouting his name."