Three surfers jumped to action when a man paddleboarding off Sunset Cliffs appeared to have a heart attack Monday morning.
When San Diego lifeguards arrived on scene at Ladera Street and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard in Point Loma, the man was on the board with three surfers around him, helping him.
“I thought he was dying,” surfer Pier Moore said just after the rescue. He was changing out of his wetsuit next to his VW van, straight blond hair still wet, when news crews tracked him down.
Moore said he and two other surfers jumped to rescue a man they found floating under the water about 150 yards off shore.
Moore and another man named Scott worked together to pull the paddleboarder up onto a board and start CPR while a third surfer, a woman, headed to shore to alert lifeguards.
“I think he’s okay but you know it was gnarly, you know, to see something like that,” Moore said.
The unidentified man was a frequent surfer along this section of coast, approximately 55 to 60 years old Moore said. He said the man's lungs were filled with water and he estimated that he had been underwater for about 30 seconds.
Lifeguards were able to get the paddleboarder into a boat and back to shore where he was transported to the hospital by ambulance.
"In my opinion, the surfers saved his life," said San Diego lifeguard Rich Haynes. “If he was unconscious in the water and they got him out, maintained his airway, they definitely saved his life.”
Even though initial reports said the man had a heart attack, lifeguards couldn't confirm that was the case.The man had difficulty breathing and was unable to answer questions once he got to the lifeguard boat, Haynes said.
"To see those surfers who are out there take the initiative and care for somebody like that, is just incredible," said Haynes.
Moore said he would do the same again for any surfer.
“When we were bringing him in, I told him ‘Don’t worry you’ll be riding tomorrow,’” Moore said with a smile.
“Hopefully I’ll see him again and he can tell me all about it,” he said.