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Public warned after Point Mugu deaths

November 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A family is in mourning for three teenagers who died after being swept out to sea off Point Mugu. The teens were out taking photos when they were hit by a wave on Thanksgiving Day.The picturesque site was the scene of a disaster on Thursday. The victims were 19-year-old Catalino Ramos Vasquez, his brother 17-year -old Marcelo Ramos Vasquez and 19-year-old Pedro Avila Vasquez of Oxnard.

The water they saw in the early afternoon was calm. What they didn't see were the invisible currents beneath the surface that occasionally join together to create a huge wave.

"I've seen it happen several times ... Just without any warning. Next thing you know it's a big giant swell coming and pounding on the rocks," said Alex Fabian, an Oxnard resident.

Fabian and a friend survived a similar experience while fishing on a jetty.

"The big thing is the fear that comes across you ... you've been hit, you're wet, you're in the water, it's cold, you're in shock ? you're trying to grab on to whatever you can," said Fabian.

It is unclear whether the three victims knew how to swim. An onlooker jumped into the water trying to save them. 24-year-old Kathryn Barrona of Camarillo did not want to appear on camera, but she told Eyewitness News that conditions are far more treacherous than they appear. Even as an experienced swimmer, she was slammed against the rocks, cut by barnacles as sharp as razors. She managed to drag in one person, but he had already died.

On Friday, visitors continued to venture onto the rocks. Eyewitness News saw entire families crawl through fences to get a closer look at the rock formations, ignoring trespassing signs.

Federal firefighters and State Park Rangers say they try to warn people, but they keep coming back.

The Sheriff's Department says the Vasquez family not well off. They say the three victims are immigrants from Mexico and their families are trying to figure out how to come up with the money to send their bodies home.


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