Mission Beach

Drowned Teen's Parents Sue San Diego, Allege Lifeguard Directed Him Into Rip Current

Two of the victim's friends were rescued from the water the day he died

Woodlain Zachee Prudhomme

The family of an 18-year-old who was swept out to sea by a rip current at Mission Beach while swimming and disappeared has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of San Diego.

The parents of Woodlain Zachee Prudhomme allege that lifeguards were aware of a rip current in the area where the teenager was seen swimming on June 14, 2022, but did not warn him or other members of the public.

The complaint filed last Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court states, "While swimming, Decedent was approached by a lifeguard on a jet ski who instructed him to swim toward Tower 16. Decedent, unaware of the presence of the rip current, obeyed the lifeguard's instruction. In doing so, he swam straight into the dangerous rip current, and was pulled farther out into the ocean and began to drown."

City officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the lawsuit, which alleges wrongful death, dangerous condition of public property, and negligent undertaking.

Numerous searches conducted in the weeks following Prudhomme's disappearance turned up nothing. Prudhomme graduated from Crawford High School one day before his presumed drowning.

"This is such an important public safety issue," said Domenic Martini, one of the attorneys representing Prudhomme's family. "This young man lost his life at Mission Beach, one of the most popular beaches in all California. We're bringing this suit to find out how this could have happened right under the city lifeguards' noses."

The 18-year-old was at Mission Beach with classmates for a graduation celebration when tragedy struck.

Two of Prudhomme's friends were rescued from the water, but lifeguards said Woodlain got caught in a rip current and never resurfaced.

A standout basketball player, classmates said last year that the 6-foot-2 senior was a big reason the team won the 2021 CIF Division 5 Championship. His dad,  Zachee Saint-Vil, said basketball was just one part of his son's dreams since they emigrated from Venezuela several years ago.

"It was his dream and he wanted to keep playing nationally, so that he could bring success to his family,” Saint-Vil said.

Though there have been many questions about whether Prudhomme could swim, his father said his son knew how to swim and would go to the beaches in Venezuela.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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