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Hundreds paddle out to honor drowned lifeguard

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    People gather for a memorial for Newport Beach lifeguard, Ben Carlson off the Newport Pier Sunday, July 13, 2014 in Newport Beach, Calif. Carlson drowned July 6, while trying to rescue a swimmer off Newport Beach. He was trying to help a struggling swimmer when they were hit by a large wave. The swimmer made it to shore safely, but the 32-year-old lifeguard went under. Carlson was a 15-year veteran of the Newport Beach Fire Department. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Michael Goulding)
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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. >> Hundreds of surfers paddled out on boards to remember a Southern California lifeguard who drowned a week ago while saving a swimmer caught in treacherous surf.

The Orange County Register reports that more than 2,000 people joined the paddle-out tribute Sunday in Newport Beach in memory of 32-year-old lifeguard Ben Carlson. Thousands more watched from the pier and beach.

Carlson died a week ago during a rescue after disappearing under 10- to 12-foot waves. He was the first lifeguard to die in the Orange County city known for sandy beaches and waves that attract the attention of surfers worldwide.

Surfer Bobby Zahabizadeh says he’s grateful for the lifeguards. He was just a few towers away when Carlson died.

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