A father of three tragically lost his life while fishing alongside his wife in California. Now, police say a “sneaker wave” was to blame for his death.
Andrew Machi, 39, and his family were vacationing near Trinidad for his birthday on March 22 when the incident occurred, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to KRCR.
He was standing on the rocks by Luffenholtz Beach when the water unexpectedly swept him in.
A GoFundMe started by his sister-in-law said that Machi’s wife, Brandie, jumped in after him:
Brandie jumped in and tried to save him but he was about 15 feet out and the water was throwing her back into the rocks. She ran for help but he passed away.
The North Coast Journal reports that a helicopter was dispatched by the Coast Guard to rescue the man.
He was located within six minutes and taken to a nearby hospital but did not survive. His GoFundMe said that the coroner “believes he hit his head on rocks and was knocked out.”
Sneaker waves are large waves that hit unexpectedly after a period of calm, according to National Weather Service (NWS). They are common in the Pacific Northwest.
For much of the West Coast, sneaker waves kill more people than all other weather hazards combined. Sneaker waves are deadly, larger-than-average swells that can suddenly and without warning surge dozens of feet higher up the beach than expected, overtaking the unwary.
Those visiting the West Coast are advised to stay vigilant of their surroundings while on the beach, even if the water appears to be calm.
The NWS warns:
Many uninformed individuals aren’t expecting waves to suddenly run up to their thigh or waist instantly filling their clothes with water, sand, and gravel. This watery mixture of sand and gravel trapped in their clothes weighs them down like concrete rendering them powerless to keep from being dragged off the beach by the receding wave.
The family said that Machi’s funeral is private but that others are welcome to attend a “Celebration of Life” that will take place on April 13.
The GoFundMe campaign for the family has raised more than $53,000.