The Sonoma County coroner's office has identified a man who was swept out to sea from a beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore on New Year's Day as 59-year-old Charles Francis Quaid, of Richmond (pictured below).
A crew from the U.S. Coast Guard station in Bodega Bay recovered Quaid's body with a 47-foot lifeboat around 4 p.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
National Park Service ranger John Golda said Quaid and a woman, whom the coroner's office identified as Quaid's wife, were walking a dog along the north end of Point Reyes Beach, also known as 10-Mile Beach, around 12:30 p.m. when a large wave knocked the woman and dog to the ground.
Quaid went to help them. Witnesses said he was able to help his wife, but when he went for his dog he was knocked down by a series of waves that swept him out to sea.
Bystanders rescued Quaid's wife and the dog, Golda said.
The waves at the time were 10 to 12 feet high, which Golda said is not unusual for that stretch of beach, and there was no high surf advisory.
The Marin County Fire Department was informed of the incident by someone with a cellphone around 12:30 p.m., Battalion Chief Mike Giannini said.
Both the fire department and a Coast Guard helicopter arrived about 20 minutes later, Giannini said.
Quaid had drifted into the surf and was no longer visible from the shore, Giannini said. His body was eventually located and retrieved.
The woman was evaluated by paramedics at the scene and then released, Giannini said.
The Point Reyes National Seashore's website warns visitors of "sneaker waves" that can occur at any time and drag beachgoers out to sea.
The Southern Marin Fire Protection District, Inverness Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol also responded, Giannini said.
A multi-agency water rescue team also responded on two jet skis, Golda said.