Paddle out memorial honors Newport Beach lifeguard who drowned

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Nearly 1,000 people turned out Sunday for two memorials honoring the 32-year-old lifeguard who lost his life while attempting a rescue in heavy surf conditions at Newport Beach.

In the first memorial, hundreds of people paddled out on their surfboards at Newport Beach to honor Ben Carlson's love of the water. Carlson, a 15-year veteran lifeguard, was overcome by 10-to-12 feet waves while trying to save a swimmer in distress on July 6.

The swimmer ultimately made it to shore safely, but Carlson did not.

"The size of this crowd is an amazing testament to the strong values and the impact that Ben had on this community," Ben's father Chris Carlson said at the tribute.

Carlson is the first Newport Beach lifeguard to die in the line of duty in more than 100 years.

"We will never forget the contribution he made in his short time here." Newport Beach Fire Chief Scott Poster said.

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