A California woman went to the beach with her partner and two children on Sunday, but tragically, she was the only one to return home. A sneaker wave struck at Blind Beach near Jenner around 2:30pm, knocking down the couple, their 4-year-old son, and 7-year-old daughter, Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman says, per the AP. The mother was closest to shore and was able to get herself out of the water, per CNN. The father apparently "managed to grab his son but he, they were swept out," Baxman adds, per KTVU. Bystanders assisted the mother in forming a human chain to drag the father, identified as 40-year-old Michael Wyman of Petaluma, from the water, but he was soon pronounced dead from drowning, per the Press Democrat. At that point, "a piece of clothing washed in and out," Baxman says, per KGO.
"That made everybody realize there was still someone out there," continues Baxman. Amid the chaos, the mother was crying, "[Where's] the kids?" he adds. It was difficult to make out anything in the water, which one official describes as "just a foamy white mess," per the Press Democrat. Numerous searches have failed to locate the children, who are presumed dead. Another man, IDed as David Reyes Juarez, 45, died Saturday after he was apparently struck by a wave while taking family photos near the mouth of Mendocino Bay, per the Press Democrat, which describes this as "one of the worst spate of deaths in years." "The real tragedy was the victim's family watching as a loved one was lost to the ocean," Mendocino Fire Capt. Sayre Statham says. "We watched a horrified family get broken apart." (Read more drowning stories.)