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Tribute to May 5th, 1918 Drowning Victims and “HELP! San Diego Lifeguards to the Rescue” Book Launch

May 23, 2018 @ 5:00 pm7:00 pm

After 10 years of research and writing, the San Diego City Lifeguard History Book Volume 1 (1868-1941) will be released at 5:00 pm on May 23, 2018 at a public ceremony at the Ocean Beach Lifeguard Station, foot of Santa Monica at Abbott Street. The first volumes will be presented to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Councilmember Lorie Zapf who represents Ocean Beach.

The book, “HELP! SAN DIEGO LIFEGUARDS TO THE RESCUE” was authored by Michael T. Martino who served as a lifeguard and Aquatic Specialist (Chief Lifeguard) of California State Park System. Award winning Sunbelt Publications Inc., based in El Cajon is the book’s publisher.

“HELP is the most comprehensive history of any lifeguard service in the world and needs two volumes.” Martino said. The final Volume 2 of the history (1941-present) will be released in 2020. The book retails for $19.95.

The history project was chaired by former Councilmember Byron Wear who served as a San Diego Lifeguard Lieutenant in the 70’s. Former Lifeguard Capt. Nick Lerma (ret) began the history project which is currently coordinated by Sgt. Rick Strobel. “This effort was made possible by hundreds of generous donors who provided over $40,000 in project seed funds. In addition, over $55,000 was raised by the committee and community to construct the Ocean Beach Lifeguard Bronze Statue and monument created by Artist Richard Arnold in 2013, which has become a landmark in the Ocean Beach community.” said Wear.

The May 23rd, 2018 Book Release will memorialize the 13 people who drowned on May 5, 1918 at Ocean Beach including 11 WWI soldiers and sailors from Camp Kearny and Pt Loma due to a mass rip current. 60 people were rescued. The program will feature selected musical tributes, a lifeguard paddle out near the drowning location and historical reflections.

Although City of San Diego hired Lifeguards in 1914, they lacked adequate staff and equipment to prevent the tragedy. The disaster prompted the City Council to expand lifeguard staffing and equipment. The City of San Diego Lifeguard Service has grown to over 100 full time and 200 seasonal lifeguards who rescue nearly 6,000 people annually with a budget of $20 Million. The San Diego City Lifeguard Service, a division of the Fire Rescue Department is known throughout the world as a leading marine safety agency. In addition to beach lifeguarding, the agency is involved in effecting cliff rescues, swift water rescues, boat rescues and marine firefighting.

“I am proud to represent some of the best trained, most prepared first responders to protect our coastline. I am confident we’ll continue to keep San Diegan’s and visitors safe. This book captures the importance of ocean lifeguard history.” said James Gartland, Interim San Diego City Lifeguard Chief.


May 23, 2018
5:00 pm–7:00 pm
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