Orange County, California orthopedic surgeon Jack Chen died Friday, March 22, 2013 while surfing at El Sunzal beach in El Salvador, according to a story in the Orange County Register.
It was the biggest swell El Salvador has seen this season, perhaps in years, with waves of 15 feet and larger, said Edward Smith, an employee at Roca Sunzal Hotel, which sits directly in front of where Chen was pulled underwater. “The surf was so big and the current was pulling so strong,” Smith said. Chen had been surfing at the beach town Playa El Tunco at the surf spot Sunzal, a break known as a popular place to learn to surf, which usually produces mellow right-hand waves suitable for longboarders. . . But on Friday, the waves, current and winds were so strong that even Smith, a native Hawaiian who has surfed 20 years, said he hesitated to go out. . . The current pulled Chen toward a big, iconic rock at Bocanita that sits out in the ocean south of the surf break, and after his leash snapped and his board broke away, Chen attempted to hang onto the rock. Locals from the shore shouted at him to let go, hoping that the ocean’s current would eventually pull him to shore, Smith said.
After a wave slammed into the rock Chen reportedly disappeared. His body was found Monday morning March 25, 2013 three miles east of the beach. Our thoughts are with Chen’s family and friends.
[Link: OC Register]