The machinery was part of a dredging operation designed to clear the channel which has grown dangerously shallow for boaters coming in and out of the harbor.
Anti-depressive this ain’t.
On Monday, a sleeping woman was killed after being run-over by a fifty-thousand pound front-end loader on Oceanside Harbor beach, thirty-eight miles north of San Diego.
The machinery was part of this fall’s dredging operation designed to clear the channel which has grown dangerously shallow for boaters coming in and out of the harbor.
Typically, the waterway splitting the jetties is cleared each spring to a depth of about twenty-five feet.
As a result of Covid-induced workhand shortage, the dredging was not completed and shoals have piled up creating shallows of up to eight feet near the South jetty, tricky for vessels ― especially sailboats ― to navigate.
(And we all know how exhausting it is to bring in the Jeanneau forty-four on a south swell.)
Both the Oceanside City Council and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested the additional dredging for this fall.
The death, while officially ruled an accident by the police, still left an impression on many.
Talking to Fox 5, local Jay Burneo said, “I was going surfing around 8:30 this morning. There was a woman who was leaning against a wall, she looked like she was going to pass out. There was a gentleman that asked if she was OK and she seemed to say, ‘I’m OK.’ When I came back out of the water, I saw her laying here crumbled up and that’s when a police officer told me what happened.”
I spoke with John Daniels, owner of the long-standing LTR Surf School, who was on the beach when it happened.
“Around 9:45 I saw a woman sort of staggering and my buddy made sure she was doing alright. She said ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.’ She didn’t want any water or anything. I saw her move her leg a bit and thought that it was no big deal.”
Less than fifteen minutes later, the woman was dead.
“Something caught me eye. I noticed a lifeguard truck, a loader with giant wheels, and a yellow tarp where the woman was laying just a few minutes ago. I told my kids to wait for a second and I ran over and told the lifeguard, ‘Hey, I think that woman was just alive, I just saw her moving. I think she overdosed. Maybe you can push some Narcan into her.’ But my buddy was like ‘Back away.’ Then I put two and two together. At that point, I was pretty rattled but had to go on. A new group was showing up and I had to shake it off like a dog throws water off its back. It’s rough.”
After the woman was struck, police cordoned off the area with caution tape.
Maybe a proper thing to do before the front-end loader started ripping around a public beach.