Boater Drowns in Fog, High Surf Off Venice

Boater Drowns in Fog, High Surf Off Venice
File photo by Jay Zanotti/L.A. Weekly Flickr pool

UPDATE at 12:25 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23: Sheriff's officials say the man's body was found on the sand and that, for now, this is a homicide investigation. See details below.

A boater was pronounced dead after the small inflatable vessel he was in got caught in high surf and fog and he ended up in the water off Venice this afternoon, authorities said.

The man was rescued from the 4- to 5-foot surf near the Marina del Rey channel at about 1:44 p.m. by Los Angeles County lifeguards, said lifeguard Capt. Ken Haskett. Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey says paramedics were dispatched to the scene at 1:36 p.m.

Efforts to revive him by lifeguards and LAFD personnel were unsuccessful and the man was pronounced dead at the scene, Haskett said.

The situation came to authorities' attention when a "passerby called of man in distress in the 5100 block of Ocean Front Walk near the water," Humphrey said.

Bystanders tried to help the man, he said.

Haskett said there was "heavy, thick fog down at the beach today" and indicated that and high surf might have also been a factor in the boater's distress.

The boat was described as a 6- to 8-foot inflatable, he said.

Authorities believe the man was either leaving or trying to return to the marina, Haskett said. The accident happened just north of the marina channel's north jetty, along the so-called Marina Peninsula of Venice, he said.

The final turn of events, however, would be determined by an L.A. Sheriff's Department investigation. Sheriff's officials were at the scene, a spokeswoman for that department said.

Because of the unusually warm holiday week temperatures, Haskett urged beach-goers to use caution when considering a romp in the waves.

"We urge beginners to swim in front of an open lifeguard tower," he said.

The victim's identity was not immediately known. Coroner's officials said they had not yet been called to the scene.

UPDATE at 12:25 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23: The L.A. Sheriff's Department says the man's body was found on the beach at 1:50 p.m. yesterday by a passerby and that, for now, this is a homicide investigation. According to the department:

Additionally, a rigid inflatable boat was located a short distance away from where the victim was discovered. Detectives are attempting to determine the correlation, if any, between the victim and the empty boat.

Witnesses or anyone else with background on the incident was asked to call investigators at 323-890-5500.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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