A couple and their teenage son have been swept to their deaths while trying to save their dog from the sea – as their daughter and son’s girlfriend watched helplessly from the shore.
Mary Elena Scott, 57, and Howard Gregory Kuljian, 54, both drowned in the tragedy on Saturday afternoon at Big Lagoon, a beach by Eureka, which is 300 miles north of San Fransisco in California.
A massive search for their son, Gregory James Kuljian, has now been called off, authorities said. He has not been found and is presumed dead. The dog climbed out of the water on its own.
The tragedy unfolded after 10-foot waves pulled the family’s beloved dog into the sea as it chased a thrown stick, and Gregory, known as ‘Geddie’ to his friends, ran in to save him.
Watching his son running towards the powerful waves, Mr Kuljian followed, said Dana Jones, a state Parks and Recreation district superintendent.
The teenager was able to get out, but when he didn’t see his father, he and his mother went back into the water looking for him.
‘Both were dragged into the ocean,’ Jones added.
The couple’s daughter, 18-year-old Olivia, and Gregory’s girlfriend watched the horrifying ordeal from the beach.
A nearby bystander called 911 at 12.40pm to report that the trio was in trouble – but by the time help arrived, nothing could be done.
Ms Jones said a park ranger who was alerted to the incident had to run a half mile to get to the beach because his car wasn’t made to handle the terrain.
When he arrived, he wasn’t able to get to them because of the high surf, she said.
Rescuers eventually retrieved Ms Scott’s body from the water, while her husband’s body washed up on the shore.
The Coast Guard deployed a helicopter and two motor life boats to search for the teenager, but the aerial search was suspended by 7pm on Saturday due to thick coastal fog.
Helicopters remained on standby and U.S. Coast Guard officials planned to continue searching in the dark if the fog lifted. Two 47-foot motor life boats were also on the scene searching for the teenager.
The search continued on Sunday with no further discoveries.
By Monday, the search had been called off, but the local Sheriff’s department is periodically checking along the coast for any sign of the boy, Coast Guard Lt. Bernie Garrigan told MailOnline.
Speaking to the Associated Press, he added that the search was stopped as a person without a wetsuit could not survive for long in the cold water.
Signs are posted near the beach parking lot warning families about ‘sneaker waves’ – swells that seemingly appear from nowhere and smash onto the beach, Garrigan said.
‘Because the beach is designed that way, when that 10-foot wall breaks, it surges up on the beach and surges back really fast,’ he said. ‘It’s like a cyclical washing machine.’
Friends flocked to Facebook to remember the family, and launched an event, ‘Wear Green for Geddie’ encouraging the teenager’s schoolmates to wear green to school in remembrance.
Ian Johnson, who created the page, added: ‘Geddie was one of the best people on this earth. His whole family was so nice and I haven’t met or heard of a single person who didn’t like him.
‘Geddie was just the funniest, nicest, most amiable person that I could ever hope to have met.’
The family lives in Freshwater, Eureka in California. Online records show that Howard Kuljian was a 2010 graduate student and teacher at the Department of Forestry at Humboldt State University. [source]
People know how much I have come to love and cherish our new cat, known to all as Ms Pinky-Pie. The four legged terror of the kingdom of WannaSlaus. We love that cat, that is our lil baby boo. But please believe if she her found her little kitty-azz in the ocean trying to break free from waves, know that she would just be dead azz dead on her OWN. I’m not risking my gatdamn life to save ANY animal, people. Hell, I’m not risking my life to save another human being either that wasn’t my own wife or child, let alone an animal. CALL me a punk and a bytch. CALL me a heartless spawn of a whore. I’ll be that….. and i’ll be alive to give zero fuggs also.
I’m sorry but stories like this, and they have been all two familiar in the past year, remind me that I need to make sure my children understand the damn boundaries and rational logical thinking when it comes to pets and animal family members. Make sure they understand that as much as we might love the furry members of our family, please believe they are still just a damn animal…and we can always get another. I’d rather grieve over a lost pet than a lost child.
My heart seriously goes out to the surviving daughter though. I can not even fathom enduring what she is having to go through…… over a damn dog.