Surfboard Helps ID Man Who Died

Skip Frye board helps investigators identify surfer found slumped on board off Pacific Beach

A surfboard belonging to a La Jolla man who apparently suffered some type of medical trauma and died helped to identify the victim.

Surfers found William Joseph Ryan, 50, in the water, slumped over his board while surfing at Tourmaline Surfing Park in Pacific Beach. He attempted to get back on his board and complained of having trouble breathing, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Ryan's rescuers didn't know who he was, but the lifeguards said they were able to identify him by the “very nice board” he was using.

Lifeguards said Ryan's board was shaped by former professional surfer Skip Frye, who is married to Councilwoman Donna Frye. Someone contacted Frye, who assisted authorities in identifying Ryan. 

Ryan was not seen struggling before surfers came to his aid, said San Diego Lifeguard Lt. Andy Lerum. He said the nature of Ryan’s medical condition is unclear but that it was not related to a surfing accident.

San Diego lifeguards assisted surfers in bringing him to shore. Lifeguards used a defibrillator and performed CPR on Ryan on the beach, said Lerum.

Paramedics arrived and transported Ryan to Scripps Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

The medical examiner’s office has not listed  Ryan’s cause of death.

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