My wife and I are leaving tomorrow morning for 7 days of snorkeling, diving, swimming, surfing, and boogie boarding in Puerto Rico. One of the beaches where I plan to do most of my boogie boarding and surfing is Sandy Beach in Rincon, which is notorious for it’s strong surf.
Which is why this story about John LaPlante, a longtime editor of The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA) is such a grim reminder about the dangers of swimming in the ocean:
John LaPlante, 54, and his two children got into trouble in the surf near the rock pier that juts into the Gulf at 61st Street on Thursday afternoon. Bystanders were able to help his children but LaPlante could not be reached as he was swept into a rip current along the pier. Galveston Beach Patrol lifeguards pulled LaPlante from the water and he was taken to UTMB in critical condition.
I know exactly which pier the story refers to, as I’ve surfed near and off that pier numerous times when I lived in Houston, and know how strong the rip current can be near the rock jetty that juts out before the pier.
More on the rescue attempt here:
The victim was swimming in the water on the east side of 61st Fishing Pier with his two children and two other unrelated young men when the strong currents started sweeping them towards the pier.
The victimâ€™s children and the two young men were able to climb upon the rock groins. Bystanders on the scene tossed the victim a life ring buoy; which he was able to cling to for a short period of time.
Lifeguard Lt. Tony Pryor arrived on the scene just as the victim lost grasp of the ring buoy. Pryor then entered the water and was able to make contact with the victim within 20 seconds. Pryor then swam the victim to shore where he was assisted by Senior Lifeguard Aaron Shaffner.