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Search continues for 2 kids swept by ocean in Sonoma County

Search continues for 2 kids swept by ocean in Sonoma County

  • Updated

JENNER, Calif. (AP) — Authorities were searching Tuesday for two children who were swept off their feet by a powerful wave along with their parents over the weekend. Their mother was able to make it to shore, but their father died trying to save them.

Their father, Michael Wyman, 40, drowned Sunday trying to save his 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter at Blind Beach in Sonoma Coast State Park, just south of the city of Jenner.

A relative told the Press Democrat the mother had loved ones at her side but was not able to speak publicly of her loss. The family had moved from Oakland to Petaluma only a few months ago in search of more open space and a simpler, more rural life as the coronavirus pandemic dragged on, a family friend told the newspaper.

California State Park personnel said the family was visiting the beach during several days of large swells that made the ocean perilous for visitors. Officials said heavy seas with waves that could reach up to 22 feet and wind gusts expected to exceed 40 mph were forecast in Northern California through Tuesday night.

“For small children, fully clothed, it’s obviously very dangerous,” State Park Ranger Sgt. Tim Murphy said.

Wyman reportedly had a hold of one of his children at one point but lost his grasp before both were sucked into the waves. Bystanders helped his wife, who made it to shore, to pull Wyman from the water.

They attempted to revive him before emergency personnel arrived and took over. But he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Farther north on Saturday, David Reyes Juarez of Rancho Cucamonga fell off the rocks into the crashing surf below the Mendocino Headlands and died.

Juarez and his family were taking photos when he climbed down the rocky bluff face, closer to the water and was suddenly plunged into the water as his horrified family watched, officials said.

The ocean was extremely rough in the area, and family members reported that they could see he was unconscious in the water when they called for help, authorities said.

Juarez was a longtime elementary school principal who had recently been promoted to assistant director of special education for the San Bernardino City Unified School District.

“He had a heart for helping all students, but David was fully bilingual, so he had a special place in his heart for English learners, because he was an English learner, so he really worked hard on behalf of those students — whether advocating for during management meetings or meeting with parents,” said Maria Garcia, district communications officer.

For copyright information, check with the distributor of this item, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

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