Tragedy struck Point Reyes National Seashore on New Year’s Day when a man attempting to rescue his dog from the surf at North Beach drowned a mere 15 feet from the shore, according to witnesses. Charles Quaid, a 59-year-old Richmond resident, was walking with his wife and their dog along the water’s edge directly below the entrance to the parking lot moments before all three were submerged in chilly water. Emergency calls were placed at 12:30 p.m.
Several men dragged the woman from the surf, where large waves had spit her back out, disoriented and covered in sand. It was only after she asked about her husband that they realized there was another person in the water.
The woman was uninjured, and the dog swam safely to shore; meanwhile, Mr. Quaid appeared in shock as he floated just 15 feet away, unresponsive to onlookers’ cries that he try to swim.
Witnesses said the drop-off at that particular part of the beach is severe and that the waves were more than 10 feet high. It was minutes before high tide.
After Mr. Quaid emerged from another wave he was unconscious. His body drifted north and was out of sight 15 minutes later; it was recovered at 4 p.m. by a Coast Guard team aboard a 47-foot vessel, one of many crafts used in a rescue effort supported by officials with the National Park Service, numerous fire departments and Highway Patrol. Park officials say they are still investigating the
North Beach is part of an 11-mile expanse known as Great Beach. “If you are looking for the drama of the heavy surf, this is the place to be,” the seashore’s website states. Officials recommend staying at least 30 yards from the water on this and other ocean-facing beaches.