Surfer rescues woman after duo jumps from Huntington Beach Pier, man does not survive

A man died Sunday after he and a woman jumped from the Huntington Beach Pier. City officials said it is not clear what prompted the duo to jump into the ocean, but it appeared the two did it for fun.

The incident happened Sunday at around 6:30 p.m.

City officials said the woman, 36, jumped from the pier, and was followed by a 44-year-old man. The woman survived, but the man was rushed to the hospital and later pronounced dead. He has been identified as Fenton Dee III of Norwalk.

Edmundo Alarcon was at the pier and witnessed and recorded part of the incident.

"She was hanging over the edge. It looked like she wanted to jump off the end of the pier for fun and the man was reluctant," said Alarcon.

The woman jumped, and when she resurfaced, spectators began cheering. However, she soon started to struggle.

"The gentleman that she was with looked like he got concerned for her and nobody expected him to jump, and he just went over the rails and jumped to go in after her and that's when the surfers came up to rescue them," said Alarcon.

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One of the surfers who came to their rescue was Landon Holman, an avid surfer. He said the two who jumped were siblings, and he tried warning them against jumping.

"They yelled down at us surfers, [and said] 'Hey is it OK if we jump, will we get in trouble?' We're kind of bantering back and forth, but I said no, it's not a good idea to jump, not only will you get in trouble, but it's very dangerous in these waters if you don't know what you're doing," Holman said. "I pleaded with them not to. Unfortunately there were a few other surfers out there and spectators instigating them to [jump]."

Holman said he started paddling his way towards the pier when the woman jumped.

"Pretty shortly afterwards, her brother followed and jumped in as well, and immediately they knew they made the wrong decision," said Holman. "Soon as they jumped in, they were frantically yelling for help and I got over to them as quickly as I could and got them both secured on my board. They were holding onto it and I knew in my head, there was no way I'd be able to save both of them."

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Holman said another surfer named Ryan came to help. He grabbed Dee III, while Holman focused on the woman.

"I was trying to calmly explain to her, we're going to have to go under some waves, [and said to her] when I tell you to, inhale as much air as you can and whatever you do, do not try to suck in water when you're underneath," Holman said.

The conditions were dangerous, and a strong wave came over them, according to Holman.

"She got away from me, and when I popped up, I noticed she was about 40 feet down the beach from me and I frantically grabbed my board and tried to paddle to her as fast as I could," said Holman.

Holman got to her, but lost her again when another wave crashed.

"You could tell she was actively drowning at that point, not being able to hold herself up. I got her on the beach safely, thank God, and looked back out and scanned the water to see how Ryan was doing with her brother," said Holman.

Holman got back into the ocean to check on Ryan and the brother.

"When we got to him, he was unfortunately unresponsive. I'm screaming at people on land to call 911, so by the time we got him on the shore and on the sand, someone had already contacted 911," he said.

Holman said he did CPR. Paramedics soon came to treat the victims. Dee III was rushed to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, where he was later pronounced dead.

"I know ultimately I did the best I could have during that situation, me and Ryan both," said Holman. "We did everything in our power to save both of them and we were able to save one life and to me, that still means a lot. I just did what I would want anyone else to do if my friends or family were in that situation, unfortunately it ended bad."

Holman said he wants to spread awareness.

"I really just wanted to do this interview to bring awareness and how magnificent and how dangerous the ocean can be at the same time, and it's not something to be taken lightly. I just really hope people think twice before they make that jump. Tell your loved ones you love them. Tell your family, friends and everybody you're here for them because nothing's promised," said Holman.

Officials warned against jumping off the pier as well.

"The ocean conditions are constantly changing based on tides, surf conditions, and time of the year," Marine Safety Division Chief Eric Dieterman said. "Due to these changing conditions, and the 40-45-foot pier height, pier jumping is prohibited."