A father and his 6-year-old son died Sunday at Goat Rock State Beach in unincorporated Sonoma County, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.
At about 2:30 p.m., three children were playing in some shallow water at the beach when a strong undertow swept a boy out to sea.
His father went in to save his son and was almost successful when the undertow took them both back out, Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Emily Rowan said.
Two helicopters, one from the Coast Guard and one from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, responded as well as two Coast Guard boats.
Both bodies were recovered but neither the boy nor his father could be resuscitated.
The two had been in the water for about an hour before rescuers got them to shore, Rowan said.
"It was pretty shallow water but the undertow was so strong," Rowan said. "It's an unfortunate situation."