San Diego

Surfer Rescues Tourist Swept Away by Wave at Sunset Cliffs Beach

A Canadian woman may have drowned if it had not been for the quick and heroic actions of a nearby surfer on Friday.

At approximately 10:21 a.m., two Canadian tourists were posing for pictures at Sunset Cliffs Beach when a wave apparently swept them both out to sea, according to a San Diego Fire-Rescue report. One woman was able to swim to the rocks and get out, but the other was struggling.

Mathew Alford, a professor at La Jolla's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, was surfing when he heard people yelling, and happened to be close enough to offer the struggling woman assistance.

“She could barely swim - she was disoriented, exhausted and terrified and about to go under,” Alford described in a Facebook post. “I got her onto my surfboard and kept reassuring her she was going to be okay.”

Alford kept her on his surfboard as he paddled them to safety, while a couple other surfers went to grab her backpack that had fallen behind, Alford said in his online post.

When lifeguards and firemen arrived on scene they helped her out of the water, but said if Alford had not arrived when he did the woman would have likely drowned.

The woman was taken to the hospital with minor scrapes and bruises.

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