A swimmer who died after helping a fellow swimmer who was in distress in the ocean off of Laguna Beach, was identified Wednesday by authorities.
The victim was identified by the Orange County coroner as 27-year-old Javier Vargas Cuellar.
Emergency personnel went to the area of Table Rock Beach about 7:40 p.m. Sunday in response to a report of “three swimmers in distress,” said Laguna Beach police Sgt. Jim Cota.
“Two males and two females had jumped off the rocks to the north of Table Rock Beach into the water,” Cota said. “The two males and one of the females found themselves being pulled out by a rip current. The two males were able to escape, but the female was still in trouble.
“One of the males swam back out to help her,” Cota said. “With his help, the female was able to swim back, but the male (identified as Cuellas) was last seen going under the surface.”
Lifeguards responded and began a search, Cota said.
“At one point, there were over thirty lifeguards in the water,” Cota said.
An Orange County Fire Authority helicopter and an Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol boat responded to assist, and police and firefighters established a command post. About 8:30 p.m., Cuellar was found unresponsive in the water, Cota said.
Cuelllar was brought to shore, and he was taken via helicopter to Mission Hospital-Mission Viejo, where he was pronounced dead.
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