Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Black's Beach Stand-off", by Chris Brewster

( Photo above shows Black's Beach, San Diego, Calif.; Source: Google Image Search; re: )

Heads up ! Here's one more story from Chris Brewster for your consideration and entertainment. Enjoy !


Black's Beach Stand-ff

One morning in the mid-1990s, around 8:30 a.m., I was sitting in my office on Mission Bay, monitoring both the lifeguard and police radios when I heard a police officer say he was approaching a vehicle near the Torrey Pines Glider Port, 300 feet above Black’s Beach. There had been a major crime of some sort and the vehicle matched the suspect description. This attracted my attention.

The officer called for backup, then broadcast several messages that were a bit hard to decipher. He stated that the suspect had bolted over the side of the cliff and he was in pursuit. He said that the suspect was running down the cliff (although rolling is probably more like it). The dispatcher was asking for a description, direction of travel, etc. She also asked where the officer was. He was a bit coy about that on the radio.

It turned out that he had approached the driver’s side of the vehicle with a shotgun, the driver had bolted down the cliff, he had followed, tossing the shotgun in the ice plant, and like many people we rescue, had made it partway down, only to become trapped. The suspect, having greater motivation to place himself at risk, had done just that and somehow gotten to the beach, more or less unscathed. The officer was broadcasting from the teardrop in which he was stuck.

I began a Code 3 response. Black’s is about a 15 mile drive up I-5 from my office. Our night response crew responded with our cliff rescue unit to rescue the police officer and I planned to assist.

As I responded, I heard the police officer advising that the suspect had disrobed and was running south on the beach in his skivvies. Now, at a nude beach, you are either clothed or you are nude. No one walks around in their underwear. This criminal apparently knew it was a nude beach and wanted to blend in, but didn’t want to be naked. In any case, the police officer, trapped on the cliff, could not see far to the south, as there is a promontory there, so he lost visual. He also advised that like most of our rescues there, he was uninjured, just couldn’t climb out of where he was.

I decided to let our night crew respond to the cliff rescue and proceed to the south end of the beach, where there is a road maintained by the University of California, San Diego, with a special gate accessible to only a few of us with keys. At that time, few of the police had four wheel drive vehicles and I figured I’d help them locate this suspect on the beach. Once I got to the bottom of the road, there were numerous University Police and SDPD squad cars parked. I drove down on the beach to find five or six officers on foot.

To the south of the road, the beach becomes rocks and bends around toward Scripps Pier. You can’t drive there, but the police seemed to be moving in that direction. I drove as far south as I could and got out of my vehicle. I hadn’t had the chance, while driving code, to change my clothes, so I still had my office attire on.

As it turned out, the cops had “cornered” the suspect in the water, waist to chest deep. He was desperately trying to get away, but there was a stand-off. The cops didn’t want to go into the water and the suspect wasn’t coming to shore. If he moved south, they moved south, if he moved north, they moved north. They commanded him to come to shore, which he would not do. This went on for awhile, and we actually moved around the point toward Scripps Pier, but the whole thing seemed ridiculous to me.

I decided to end the standoff. I took off my suit jacket and carefully folded it, leaving it on a rock. I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up my pants, and ran out into the water. The guy was only in chest deep water and the surf was marginal. So I just grabbed him and started bringing him to shore. He really didn’t put up a fight. He had nowhere to go. Once we got to shore, the cops took over.

All of this was memorialized by the Channel 10 news helicopter and run at the top of the evening news as a dramatic arrest by the lifeguard chief in the suit. The cop on the cliff was rescued by the lifeguards and his shotgun recovered by officers who had responded earlier to secure it. I headed downtown for a previously scheduled meeting, but unfortunately the prop wash of the news helicopter had blown my carefully folded jacket into the water and it ultimately shrunk to an un-wearable size.

Lifesaving Aye,

B. Chris Brewster
Phone (mobile): 1-619-807-7777 (California, USA GMT -7)
SKYPE: bcbrewster
Twitter: @uslifesaver
News Group:
United States Lifesaving Association:
International Life Saving Federation:

"If you have a chance to help others and fail to do so, you are wasting your time on this earth." Roberto Clemente


*** Many Thanks to Chris for another great story that he was kind enough to share with all of us!


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Until next time.....

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