Source: KPBS, May 23rd, 2018
By Brooke Ruth, Maureen Cavanaugh
Thirteen people drowned on May 5, 1918 in a rip current event at Ocean Beach. Although San Diego first hired lifeguards in 1914, the 1918 tragedy is what led the city to allocate the necessary resources for the lifeguard service.
Michael Martino, former chief lifeguard for California State Parks, is author of a history of the lifeguards called “HELP! San Diego Lifeguards to the Rescue, A History of Their Service, Volume 1: 1868-1941.”
He said the Ocean Beach tragedy, “was the most catastrophic, single event drowning in San Diego’s history.”
Martino said he wrote the book for lifeguards, beach goers and the general public.
“My really big goal was, I want somebody with really no knowledge of the ocean to pick this book up and say this story is fantastic … because what these men did and it’s something that I think that all of us as San Diegans and people who enjoy the beach can be proud of because its not just about lifeguards, it’s about how communities rallied and demanded safety for their families when they came out to the beach,” he said.
Martino joins Midday Edition on Wednesday to discuss the book and the history of the lifeguard service.
Martino will sign copies of his book at an event memorializing the 100th anniversary of the Ocean Beach tragedy starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Ocean Beach lifeguard station.