The father and daughter were playing in a lagoon when the girl's inflatable raft began to move to the river

By Jason Duaine Hahn
December 26, 2019 06:45 PM
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Credit: Alexandra Schuler/Getty Images

A man died trying to rescue his daughter after she was pulled out to sea during a trip to a California beach on Christmas Eve.

Officials said the man and his daughter were playing in a lagoon at Carmel River State Beach on Tuesday afternoon when the girl’s inflatable raft drifted toward the Carmel River, which leads into the ocean, according to the Los Angeles Times. The man swam after his daughter as first responders were called to the scene.

The girl — said to be 10 years old — was found on the raft about 20 minutes later, having floated about a half-mile away from her original location. She was taken to a local hospital and treated for hypothermia and exposure.

Rescue boats found the man unresponsive an hour-and-a-half after retrieving his daughter. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officials from the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment on Thursday. The man’s name has not been released.

According to the Times, heavy rains swept central California on Monday and filled the lagoon.

“I’m sure there will be additional PSAs coming regarding the current,” George Nunez, assistant chief of the Southern Division of the San Benito/Monterey Cal Fire unit, told the newspaper. “We’ll take what we can from this to shore up safety down there.”

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Despite cold weather, travelers still ventured to the area during the Christmas break.

“When it’s warm out this is a popular beach for sunbathing,” reads a description of the area on the California Beaches website. “At other times, it’s still popular with birdwatchers and hikers who walk the bluff top trail south in front of the Carmel Meadows neighborhood all the way to Monastery Beach which is also part of the state park.”

According to SeaTemperatues.org, water temperatures in the area average around 57 degrees Fahrenheit or less in December, as noted by the Sacramento Bee, which also reported that another man died in Carmel earlier this year when he dove into the ocean to rescue his son who had been swept up by breakwater.

Lifeguards were able to save the boy but his father’s body was found the next day.