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Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup #784690
01/24/06 02:27 PM
01/24/06 02:27 PM
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He was a newb. .... from www.sfgate.com

Taste of surfing proves fatal

Man who apparently drowned off S.F. beach was new to sport
Suzanne Herel, Stacy Finz, Chronicle Staff Writers

Tuesday, January 24, 2006




Sean O'Flaherty Fahey seemed to accomplish anything he set his mind to, earning three degrees in mechanical engineering, including a doctorate, working on a master's in business and studying Gaelic in honor of his Irish heritage.

So when the 33-year-old Fahey went looking for a new pursuit -- something recreational -- he picked the challenging sport of surfing. He had gotten a taste for riding the waves last month during a vacation in Central America, said his mother, Bonnie Machia, and ultimately "it undid him."

On Sunday, beachgoers found him unconscious after an apparent surfing accident just off San Francisco's Ocean Beach near Sloat Boulevard. A nurse who happened to be surfing there and another man tried to resuscitate Fahey but to no avail. He was pronounced dead at UCSF Medical Center shortly after 11 a.m.

The medical examiner is investigating the cause of Fahey's death, which for now is being treated as a drowning.

Machia, who lives in Burlington, Vt., where Fahey grew up, said she hadn't talked much with her son about his newfound hobby "because he knew I was concerned about him doing it."

Fahey visited Costa Rica in December and took surfing lessons there, said a close friend, Melanie Nunnink. "He was so excited to learn this new sport," she said. "Being on the water was just thrilling for him."

When he returned from his vacation, Nunnink said, Fahey was gung-ho about getting all the right surfing gear. He bought a wetsuit in Los Angeles, but Nunnink said she thought Fahey was just getting started and hadn't even bought a surfboard yet.

"I'm just so confused," she said Monday. "I didn't realize he was making it happen so quickly. That's why it's so shocking that he washed up on the beach."

Nunnink believes that Fahey had accomplished so much in his professional life that he was looking for something new to fulfill him.

At CSA Engineering in Mountain View, where Fahey had worked since 2000, vice president Eric Anderson said he was a "straight-shooter, no BS."

"He was very serious about the work, but at the same time he had a rich, full life outside of work with a circle of friends," Anderson said.

Those friends, including Nunnink, dated to Fahey's college days at the University of Vermont in his hometown. There, Fahey earned bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering. In 2000, Fahey received his doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg. His father, Kevin Paul Fahey, didn't live to see his son earn the advanced degree -- Fahey dedicated his dissertation to him.

Since 2004, Fahey had been working toward a master's degree in business at San Francisco State University. His mother said her son had thought about starting his own consulting firm someday.

On Monday, Machia read through the biographical profile Fahey had recently posted at the online community site www.myspace.com. She got quiet when she spotted a picture of her son sitting on the beach in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt.

He listed his interests as books, movies, running, riding bicycles and doing "beach stuff." His mother and friends say he loved music and worked as a DJ at the University of Vermont's radio station. He used to play the drums, said Machia, who teaches music at elementary schools. But he traded in his sticks for other endeavors.

In October, Fahey had closed escrow on a loft-style apartment on Bluxome Street in the South of Market neighborhood. Machia said she had been planning to visit in February and stay with her son for a week in his new place. Instead, she is coming to hold his memorial.

"He loved San Francisco so much," she said. "And he made so many friends there that they all need closure."

No one seems to know whether Fahey was surfing with someone Sunday. No partner was present when beachgoers spotted him in the water and dragged him onto the beach.

Rich Weideman, a spokesman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, called Fahey's death "a pretty unusual one."

"In general with surfers it's pretty rare, because it's a cohesive group of people who use Ocean Beach at the same time," Weideman said. "They tend to be more experienced and aware of temperatures and rip currents.

"The drownings tend to be more novices in the water, especially on a sunny, warm day in September or October," Weideman said.

Since 1998, when a record seven people drowned at Ocean Beach, no more than two people have drowned there in any one year, Weideman said.

He credited the decrease to beach patrols created in 1999. Park workers ride up and down the beach and often are the first responders to medical emergencies.

Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: nep] #784691
01/24/06 02:37 PM
01/24/06 02:37 PM
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That's sad. I bet I knew the guy. I was at UVM in mechanical engineering from 1992-1996. There must be better beaches to learn at in the SF area?


"The Wright brothers decide to make themselves a flying machine. You fools! You idiots! Whats your problem? everyone shouted, That will never work because plywood weighs more than air! To which the Wright brothers responded, No, it doesnt. The Wright brothers were dreamers."
Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: nep] #784692
01/24/06 02:45 PM
01/24/06 02:45 PM
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as an east coast surfer, my first west coast experience came at ocean beach. i've surfed the a dozen times since and each time is scary.

Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: Norm'] #784693
01/24/06 02:45 PM
01/24/06 02:45 PM
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not within SF city limits

pacifica (linda mar) is beginner's beach - 10 miles south

Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: nep] #784694
01/24/06 03:02 PM
01/24/06 03:02 PM
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I'm copying this from a post I made in nep's original thread on Sean's death. To those who may feel I'm over stating the point: I'm serious about Ocean Beach not being a suitable place for beginners to surf. Sean's death was tragic and from what it sounds like probably avoidable.

bandini - yeah, all's well with the zombie. I remember the first time he went out with me at Ocean Beach, after he'd been surfing Pedro for a couple of years. Tiny waves, sunny and glassy. Still, as we walked across the sand, I could see that he was totally sketched about the whole deal. I mean he was amped and ready to go, but he had more than a healthy respect for the power of Ocean Beach. He'd had it drilled into him that this was no place for beginners, even on a small day.
But like Reality Check pointed out, even very experienced surfers can get into trouble at Ocean Beach. Hell, for that matter, good surfers can get into trouble at Pedro or Cowell's! It's the ocean, it's power is incalculable. That being said, I think it's really important for beginners to realize that they should not paddle out at Ocean Beach. Even intermediate surfers should probably not go out here on the bigger days.
During those long period swells we had back in December the paddle was easy, but the waves were big, fast and powerful. I saw lots of folks in the water who really had no business being out at Ocean Beach during a big winter swell. I remember one particular Saturday morning: there was a group of about 4-5 surfers, all huddled together, obviously in way over their heads and seriously sketched whenever a set came through. A few of us were shaking our heads, saying what the f*ck are these guys DOING out here? None of them were going for any waves, but they seemed too scared to just paddle in. Finally one of them went for one of the smaller in-betweeners. He apparently panicked on the drop; went left, instead of right directly into the breaking wave and another surfer who was paddling out. Luckily, nobody got hurt, but it could have been very ugly (there's that hairsbreadth of fate again). The newbie didn't get his wave in and was still stuck out there with his pals when I went in after surfing for close to three hours. I watched them from the parking lot for a while, scratching for the horizon whenever a set came.
I don't know, maybe the fact that none of those guys drowned that day totally contradicts my point. Again, as it's already been said: any of us can go any time anywhere. But I think that fact should only serve to compel us to take precautions, get our water safety and rescue skills up to par and be mindful of our limitations all the time, wherever we surf.
Rest in Peace, Sean. I hope you had a chance to have some fun out there before you got slammed with the flip side of this thing we love.


Hokay now, evahbody HULA!
Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: nep] #784695
01/24/06 04:52 PM
01/24/06 04:52 PM
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I surfed Sloat double over head about a month back....it was a long period swell and reasonalbly easy to get out, but very heavy on the sets on the outer bar. The inner was viscous like normal. I surfed for an hour or two and went in and an an Asian torist who could not speak english had hired a soft top board and was suiting up...wondering were to put his leash. His friend (who spoke english) was filming him with a video camera....the 'surfer' must of bean 16-17.

I was in a real rush to get home to the family....when I just felt compelled to appoach the guy and just as friendly as I could just said 'do not go out today at this beach'. Once I started talking to them a few other surfers pitched in and they eventually they headed down to Linda Mar instead. After this current incident I am not going to hesitate again...

Ocean beach is my favorite local spot....but I certainly dont charge it when big.....and surfing there over head you need to be a compitant distance swimmer just in case you lose your board.

Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: nep] #784696
01/24/06 05:28 PM
01/24/06 05:28 PM
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That's sad. Not the wave you want to be surfing just out of the Costa Rican surf school.

Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: vespagetti] #784697
01/24/06 05:44 PM
01/24/06 05:44 PM
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RIP dude.

Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: vespagetti] #784698
01/24/06 06:02 PM
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Quote:

That's sad. Not the wave you want to be surfing just out of the Costa Rican surf school.





VERY WELL PUT.


"One may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night." - KG
Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: vespagetti] #784699
01/24/06 09:47 PM
01/24/06 09:47 PM
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Quote:

That's sad. Not the wave you want to be surfing just out of the Costa Rican surf school.





But in the name of common sense, if you know your skills aren't that great, why would you try. I know waves get alot more gnarly than that, but that one would make me ***** my self If I had that barreling at me tommorow, now in a year or so that may change. It's sad that that dude died like that but, duh. This is borderline darwin award.

But never the less, my condolences.


Enjoy your self, it's later than you think.
Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: Dumbsquided] #784700
01/24/06 09:56 PM
01/24/06 09:56 PM
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I've made a few bad choices paddling out at OBSF myself, and really consider myself lucky I never got hurt out there.
Wise, Rocky and I passed one 8'+ day at Sloat. Bob's GTO shook when the sets broke, even the ones 300 yards N or S of the car. That was before anyone else was surfing there regularly, so we retreated to closed out Pedro.
5 days out of a 13 months cast, I decided SantiagoSt. might be fun, so I crutched it down to the water with GeorgeOrb carrying my board. It was one of those pitching, 5' top to bottom shorepound days, dredging stuff off the bottom. After about 70 jumpovers, we get out, much to our concern, NOBODY else makes it out.
We paddle around a bit, and I belly it in. George goes over the falls, and gets dragged in. Needless to say, we retreat down to Pedro the next day where I proceeded to catch and ride over 40 waves backside at Roundhouse, just like I hadn't be out of action..... a whole world of diff....


LeeD
Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: nep] #784701
01/24/06 10:03 PM
01/24/06 10:03 PM
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very very sad.

i have to respect his attitude towards life: constantly looking for another challenge, continously learning, and trying to broaden his horizons. just sucks for his family and friends that he pushed the limits too far so soon.



life is not about finding yourself. life is about creating yourself.
Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: Dumbsquided] #784702
01/24/06 10:21 PM
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Quote:

But in the name of common sense, if you know your skills aren't that great, why would you try. I know waves get alot more gnarly than that, but that one would make me ***** my self If I had that barreling at me tommorow, now in a year or so that may change.




Get a grip, kook. You would never make it past the second
row in that pic. "in a year or so".

Quote:

It's sad that that dude died like that but, duh. This is borderline darwin award.





Sooner or later, you are going to find the upper most
reach of your limits. If you are pushing yourself.
More than once, if you are progressing. ***** happens.

That being said, the guy was probably your typical
engineer/academic. Too many donuts, not enough
laps.

Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: Dumbsquided] #784703
01/24/06 10:29 PM
01/24/06 10:29 PM
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Quote:


But in the name of common sense, if you know your skills aren't that great, why would you try. I know waves get alot more gnarly than that, but that one would make me ***** my self If I had that barreling at me tommorow, now in a year or so that may change. It's sad that that dude died like that but, duh. This is borderline darwin award.

But never the less, my condolences.



Dude wasnt surfing when that picture was taken. That photo has been around a few years. It was headhigh+ the day the dude drowned. Darwin award is right there for you to pick up

Re: Ocean Beach Drowned Surfer... followup [Re: sc__surfer] #784704
01/24/06 11:17 PM
01/24/06 11:17 PM
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Quote:

Quote:


But in the name of common sense, if you know your skills aren't that great, why would you try. I know waves get alot more gnarly than that, but that one would make me ***** my self If I had that barreling at me tommorow, now in a year or so that may change. It's sad that that dude died like that but, duh. This is borderline darwin award.

But never the less, my condolences.



Dude wasnt surfing when that picture was taken. That photo has been around a few years. It was headhigh+ the day the dude drowned. Darwin award is right there for you to pick up




This just goes to show, some people haven't been around the sport long enough to even know their own limits. It was ignorance on the guy's part, but too bad there wasn't anybody knowledgable enough to let the guy know he shouldn't be paddling out at a spot like that.


Si se puede!
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