California waves sweep 5-year-old girl to death, leave man missing

California waves sweep 5-year-old girl to death, leave man missing

A 5-year-old girl is dead and a 54-year-old man is missing after waves swept them out to sea near Half Moon Bay, Calif., over the weekend.

The U.S. Coast Guard called off the search for the man after a 22-hour search turned up no sign of him.

The search began around 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon, the Coast Guard said, when he was swept into the ocean by a wave on Martins Beach. The same wave swept the 5-year-old girl away. She was found by personnel from the San Mateo County Fire Department and pronounced dead at a hospital. Her name was not immediately released.

The search for the man covered 100 square miles, the Coast Guard said.

The initial call came in at 1:20 p.m. Saturday, and a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew arrived at 2:14 p.m., with a helicopter crew joining less than an hour later, the Coast Guard stated. They searched the rest of that day and all through the night, stopping only to refuel.

“The decision to suspend search efforts is one of the hardest decisions to make, but our crews searched for nearly 24 hours without any sightings of the missing person,” Cost Guard Capt. Jordan Baldueza said in a statement. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends affected by this very tragic event.”

Recent studies have shown that winter waves off California are getting higher as the earth’s climate changes. Researchers in August said that California’s winter wave height has increased by 13%, or about a foot, compared to the average height between 1931 and 1969. And the number of storms producing those waves doubled between 1948 and 1969, researchers at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography found.

With News Wire Services

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