A search is still underway for the two children, who were swept into the water at Blind Beach

By Jen Juneau
January 04, 2021 01:02 PM
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Beach in Sonoma County, California
| Credit: Getty

A father has died after attempting to rescue his kids from the water at a beach in Sonoma County, California.

The tragic incident occurred on Sunday at Blind Beach in the town of Jenner, after the two children — a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old — "were swept out to sea" while playing, Lt. Michael Raasch with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department told Bay Area local outlet KRON.

Lt. Raasch said the father, 40, tried to grab on to the younger child but "apparently got swept out further" during his efforts, as did the children. The Sonoma County Sheriff confirmed to KRON that the father's body was pulled from the water around 2:30 p.m. local time.

"The father ended up drowning. [His body] washed up ashore, and his wife and a friend pulled [his body] up a little closer to the sand, so he didn't get swept back out," Lt. Raasch added. "We were searching for the kids and we found a pair of shoes washed up, a jacket, but no signs of the kids. We've looked for hours."

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Touching on the "very rough" and "treacherous" conditions in the water, he said, "Even really strong swimmers would have trouble getting out of the water here."

According to Lt. Raasch, the fog presented extra challenges for the search team, as well. He said the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department would be "taking two missing-persons reports" and would be keeping "a couple people" at the beach overnight.

"At this point, it's a body recovery, and we're hoping they wash up, unfortunately," he added of the presumed-dead children. "That way, the mom can have some sort of closure."

Lt. Raasch told KRON that he wouldn't advise anyone to visit the beach considering the current conditions, as it's "too dangerous."

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"This time of year, the surf is really rough, and unfortunately ... I've been out here and seen this a few times before," he said. "This is probably the worst one, though. Not probably — it is."

Condolences for the family, who Raasch said recently moved to the area from out of state, poured in on the comments of a Sunday Facebook post about the tragedy, made by the California Highway Patrol.

"Praying these children are found ! Truly heartbreaking," one comment read, while another said, "As a mom and wife, I'm not sure how you survive such a loss. She is in my thoughts and prayers, as are those there to try to save them 😥."

"I was there today and stood beside my wife watching the amazing work the responders did," a third person wrote. "They tried so hard. Eventually the fog came in so heavy that you just couldnt see anymore. My heart goes out to the mother and wife of this family."