Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bill Asturias on "Memorial Day, 1978"

(Photo above: Bill Asturias "back in the day", early 70's, several years before the merger with LACo. Here he is in his Santa Monica City lifeguard uniform. Note the Pete Peterson tube. Photo courtesy of Bill Asturias. Used here with permission).


*** Bill Asturias writes:

I certainly remember that day as if it were yesterday, we had a very stormy winter that year and had lost a lot of sand, some filling of the inshore holes was beginning to take place but the bottom of SMS was very chewed up, some inshore holes were very deep even at low tide and even more treacherous at high tide where the inshore holes were fed by the returning water from each incoming wave, each and every inshore hole had it’s own current.

The surf was inconsistent 2-4′ and the weather was a very warm 82. It was Memorial Day and the crowd was huge.

We requested all the guards available and doubled up and tripled some towers due to the rescue activity. I remember working tower 26 doubled with Mark Newman, Jim Oppliger was at station 27, Will Maguire was at station 25.

At around the middle of the day high tide was reaching it’s peak and we had been keeping an eye on an overweight young girl that her parents had assisted to the water’s edge and had been sitting playing by the shore, when all of the sudden a lateral current built up and began picking up all the waders from the area between tower 27 and 26, about 60 or so including the non swimmer overweight girl depositing all right smack in the middle of the inshore hole. The reaction of all the guards was immediate and we began assisting and rescuing everybody that was caught in the current.

The overweight girl was struggling trying to stand up to no avail. I got to her and she held the rescue can and I began swimming towards the shore, the other lifeguards had more than one victim in their cans also and were swimming back towards shore with their victims, I noticed how easy they would pull away from me as we all swam towards shore. Mark Newman and Oppliger came back to assist me with my victim since I was not making any headway, all three of us worked for a good 15 to 20 minutes swimming, pushing and pulling until we reached the shore and were able to assist our victim in standing up. I was so grateful with my fellow lifeguards for their assistance and we all were very impressed by the size of our victim, easily over 300 pounds, she was so overweight that the skin on her forehead would drop over her eyes making it very difficult for her to see.

I believe that day was a record in rescues made in SMS.

Editor's note: To see the complete article on Memorial Day 1978 of which Bill's contribution is a part, please click on the following link to the County Recurrent ANNEX blog at:


Until next time,

Will Maguire,
on behalf of COUNTY RECURRENT News

Keeping the County Recurrent "in the loop" !

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