Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz: rough waters | Photo: O'Neill CwC

A 47-year old bodyboarder has lost his life at Its Beach, Santa Cruz, Northern California.


James Zenk, from Mountain View, was catching waves in 12-foot surf when he was suddenly dashed against rocks near the Santa Cruz Lighthouse. The rider had previously declined help from Santa Cruz Fire rescuers on jet skis.

According to Battalion Chief Mike Venezio, "a huge set sucked him toward the toilet bowl". Two rescue swimmers dived in, but they immediately feared for their own lives as big waves kept hitting the rocks.

The bodyboarder got into trouble between Its Beach and Steamer Lane, in an area of strong currents and rough waters known as "toilet bowl". He was brought to Cowell Beach, given CPR, but he ended up passing away at the Dominican Hospital.

The death of James Zenk raised the question? Should the authorities have the authority to order people to leave a dangerous situation?

Learn more about rip currents.