Newport Beach lifeguard drowns in the line of duty

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) – Emergency officials are calling the death of a veteran Southern California lifeguard “an utter tragedy.”

Ben Carlson drowned Sunday while trying to rescue a swimmer off Newport Beach. The city’s fire chief says Carlson was trying to help a struggling swimmer when they were hit by a large wave. The swimmer made it to shore safely, but the 32-year-old lifeguard went under.

Twelve-foot swells hampered searchers, who finally pulled Carlson’s body from the water three hours later.

The National Weather Service had warned of dangerous rip currents and high surf along Southern California beaches Sunday.

Carlson was a 15-year veteran of the Newport Beach Fire Department. Chief Scott Poster describes him as always ready to help somebody. He says Carlson in the first city lifeguard to die in the line of duty.

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