Three members of California family die after trying to rescue dog from sudden waves

By Daniel S Levine,

A California community is still mourning Monday after a shocking turn of events at Big Lagoon beach led to the deaths of a couple and their teen son.

Howard Kuljian, his wife Mary Scott and his 18-year-old son, Gregory, were walking their dog along the beach Saturday, when Kuljian threw a stick for the dog to catch. It went to the edge of the water and the dog was suddenly caught by “sneaker waves.” Gregory went after the dog first, followed by Kuljian and his wife. Their 18-year-old daughter Olivia and Gregory’s girlfriend watched in horror from the beach as they were swept up by the waves, reports The AP.

The dog did come back to the shore and Kuljian and his wife’s body were recovered. Gregory’s body has not been found and he is presumed dead.

“The way that beach is, with the way the swell breaks, is a recipe for disaster,” Coast Guard Lt. and spokesman Bernie Garrigan told The Times-Standard. He said the search for Gregory’s body was called off Saturday at 6:45pm because of fog and cold water temperatures.

Arcata High School students Ruby Dickinson, Ian Johnson and Raven Johnson started a Facebook campaign in memory of Gregory, urging students to wear green, his favorite color, today. “It's so amazing to see people from everywhere come together to honor the life of Geddie. Thank you all,” Dickinson wrote on the Facebook page.

The page is now filled with students posting their memories of Gregory.

Kuljian worked for Bug Press, Inc., a commercial printing company. “He had a ready smile and he always pitched in,” Bug Press owner Robert Arena told the Times-Standard.

Scott was a public health nurse for years and now worked for the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services.

Dana Jones, a state parks district superintendent, told the AP that this case is a reminder to be careful around the ocean. “When there is shorebreak like that, you don't even have to go into the water to be pulled into the sea,” she explained. “It's a reminder to be real careful around the ocean."

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