Surfer Tony Barbero splashed into the chilly Ocean Beach water Wednesday afternoon expecting to catch waves — not save lives.
Photos by Jessica Christian/SFBay
Barbero, 17, is credited with plucking a father and young boy from Ocean Beach’s vicious riptide in a dramatic surfboard rescue. A 14-year-old boy, though, remains missing and is feared lost.
Emergency calls just before 4 p.m. reported swimmers struggling in the water near the Great Highway at Lincoln Way.
Before first responders arrived, Barbero swung into action. The Chronicle reports Barbero hauled the struggling boy onto his surfboard, pulling him to shore before returning to the water to rescue the man.
Tony Barbero is the son of San Francisco fire captain Joe Barbero, who rushed to his shivering son’s side after hearing of the rescue.
First reports mentioned two distressed swimmers, but a third victim, 14-year-old Marco Cornejo, was not recovered. An intense search for the 14-year-old by fire crews and the Coast Guard was scaled back as night fell Wednesday night.
Well-known to locals as deceptively treacherous, the surf at Ocean Beach can appear harmlessly inviting to the uninitiated.
San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White called Barbero a hero while also warning about the deadly risks at Ocean Beach:
“It can look calm, but it’s dangerous. It can be deceiving, especially when it’s a nice day. We encourage people to enjoy it from the beach.”