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Rip currents may be to blame for 2 deaths

September 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
As people hit the beach for the Labor Day holiday, lifeguards warned the public to be careful in the water with the strong rip currents. The dangerous conditions may already be to blame for two deaths.

Hundreds enjoyed the last day of the Labor Day holiday weekend at the beach, though some were wearing a little more than usual.

"It's chilly. It's been surprisingly chilly," said Ron Kloss of San Dimas.

While waves weren't as large on Monday as previous days, swimmers and surfers were still advised to still be aware of the strong rip current.

A powerful storm out of New Zealand brought waves up to 20 feet high to the Wedge in Newport Beach.

Los Angeles County lifeguards were also keeping a close eye on the water. They say that it is times like these when they expect more water rescues.

"More novice swimmers or surfers tend to venture out thinking it is still safe," said L.A. County Lifeguard Capt. Angus Alexander. "Yet we still have a lot of water, there are still a lot of rip currents. They still need to use caution."

Torrance resident Russ Yamada, a 42-year-old surfer, died on Saturday at San Onofre State Beach. Yamada was found in the water next to his board unresponsive. The exact cause of death is still not known, but the surf was running six to eight feet.

Yamada's friends say he was an experienced surfer and a strong swimmer.

"I had seen his surf board up on the lifeguard tower and I went to find out what was going on," said friend Garrett Yanai. "They told me they had some bad news for me, that he had been found out in the water and was unconscious."

The body of 24-year-old Jowayne Binford is still missing after he disappeared into the ocean off Surfside Beach last Wednesday while body boarding with friends.

Witnesses say he was in the water with friends, and his board washed ashore. People went looking for Binford in the water but were unable to find him.

Lifeguards say about 80 percent of rescues are due to rip currents. They say if you get caught in a rip tide, don't try to swim straight to the shore because you will get pulled farther away. Swim parallel to the shore, and don't panic.

If you are going to be in the water, lifeguards say the best advice is to swim near a tower.


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