Surfer Who Tried to Save Pair Who Leapt from Huntington Beach Pier Warns the Ocean Can Be ‘Deceiving’


Man dies after 40-foot jump off Huntington Beach Pier

Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty

Landon Holman didn’t know he would be called on to save a life when he visited California’s Huntington Beach pier to ride waves as the sun set on Sunday.

“I really just wanted to go out to get a paddle in, to get a workout,” he tells PEOPLE. “And there were maybe about five or six other surfers out, not very many. And quite a few spectators on the pier.”

The 27-year-old says that while he was on his surfboard, he noticed a woman standing on the edge of the pier’s railing, seemingly preparing to jump 40 feet into the water below her. Holman tried to talk the woman out of leaping, but visitors and other surfers in the water egged her on.

“I knew she had no business being in the water, I thought she was kidding,” he recalls. “Unfortunately, there were a lot of instigators outweighing my voice.”

Moments later, she fell into the water.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be good — I knew she wasn’t going to be able to get herself into shore,” Holman says.

RELATED: Man Dies After Jumping 40 Feet from Calif. Pier, Following Woman Who Returned to Shore Alive

The woman immediately had difficulty staying above water. Then, as Holman paddled over to her, a man she was with — later identified as 44-year-old Fenton Auston Dee III — also jumped from the pier.

But only one of the two, who Holman says were siblings, would survive the ordeal.

“When they both jumped in, they started screaming frantically, like, ‘Help, help,’ just begging and pleading for help,” says Holman.

Surfer Who Tried to Save Man Who Died After Jumping from Huntington Beach Pier Speaks Out Courtesy: Landon Holman

Surfer Who Tried to Save Man Who Died After Jumping from Huntington Beach Pier Speaks Out Courtesy: Landon Holman

courtesy Landon Holman

The waves were high, and Holman knew it was not going to be “physically possible” for both of them to use his board to make it back to shore. As he thought about what to do, a nearby surfer named Ryan paddled over to help Dee while Holman guided the woman with his board.

The surfers then battled the strong current as they tried to bring the siblings to shore, with Holman doing his best to instruct the woman on how to hold her breath when the waves crashed into them.

Related video: Shark attacks surfer off southern California coast

RELATED: Man and Woman from Calif. Drown in 6-Ft. Waves While Vacationing in Maui, Officials Say

Holman and the woman eventually reached land, but when he turned back to the ocean, he saw Dee alone, he recalls.

“I immediately got back on my board and paddled back out as quickly as I could to him,” Holman says. “And me and Ryan got to him at the same time and when we got to him, he was unresponsive. We just — we literally just did the best we could to get him into shore as quickly as possible, just used every ounce of energy we had.”

According to FOX affiliate KTTV, Dee was taken to a local hospital and later pronounced dead. by the Los Angeles Timesa medical examiner will perform an autopsy and toxicology tests to determine his cause of death.

The 36-year-old woman, who told Holman her name was Heather, survived.

RELATED: Man Dies After Jumping from Huntington Beach Pier in California

Days after the incident, Holman says he doesn’t think of himself as a hero for stepping in to help, but he does want to encourage others to take ocean safety more seriously.

“When you’re on top of the pier looking down, it can look deceiving,” he explains. “It doesn’t look as gnarly, as crazy when they’re looking up above. You don’t know how cold the water is. You don’t know how strong the rips are. It looks beautiful, man. The ocean is the most beautiful and the most dangerous place at the same time.”

“I really just want to bring awareness to how magical and how dangerous the ocean can be. It’s not something to be taken lightly,” Holman adds. “I just really want people to think twice before they get themselves involved in that kind of situation.”

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