In deep water, it’s hard to know how to answer a call for help. But that’s what Bernard Dupre, a 48-year-old Santa Rosa man who died in his wetsuit on Bolinas Beach last Saturday, asked from his fellow surfers. Before reaching shore via a surfboard leash and multiple hands, Mr. Dupre lost consciousness. By luck, one M.D. and two nurses were nearby and started CPR. The Marin County Coroner’s Division said the cause of his death is undetermined, pending a forensic autopsy this week. Around a dozen emergency personnel were deployed to the scene—including from the Bolinas Volunteer Fire Department, Marin and Sonoma Sheriff’s Offices and a seasonal first-responder team—where they battled a peak high tide that swallowed most of the north end of the beach, the spot surfers call the Patch. The beach, crowded with sunbathers and wave-seekers, soon emptied out to make space for the emergency crews. Bolinas fire chief Anita Tyrrell-Brown reported that in addition to manual CPR, the response teams used a defibrillator to shock the heart. They moved him once to higher ground, but he died by 4:12 p.m. after the initial 911 call at 3:19 p.m. Despite the proximity to the ocean, Ms. Tyrrell-Brown said the Bolinas fire department deals with very few in-water emergencies, and that, when they do occur, fishermen, swimmers and surfers are typically first on the scene. Henry One, a brand-new helicopter manned by a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office team trained for emergencies, attempted to land on the beach for the rescue but could not find enough ground. It circled back later, dropping a line, and lifted Mr. Dupre’s body off of the beach. His family could not be reached this week.
A surfer’s death
By Anna Guth
Here’s to Bernard Dupre, who passed away on the Bolinas Beach last Saturday, after calling out for help in the water. I don’t know much about you, except that you died a surfer on a stunning, fogless summer day. My thoughts, and love, are with your family.
Lifted. That’s the word that’s here, still. Not like organized religion, exactly. Lifted like a Sonoma County helicopter that never found enough beach to make the rescue. Lifted like the line it dropped later, to take the body. Lifted. Up. Like the feeling in your belly when you’re fighting against the current, and the tide, to be in the right place at the right time. To be. Lifted. A moment when you can stop. And let go. Help is here.