The other two women were in kayaks as the group paddled on the Sunday afternoon in Agua Hedionda Lagoon in North County San Diego. All three of the women were caught by an outgoing tidal current and sucked into a wire line of buoys, which separates an aquaculture operation from the greater lagoon behind it. The two kayakers were able to free themselves and get to shore, while the female standup paddler was held underwater by her leash, which was likely attached to her ankle. She was reportedly wearing a PFD.
Rescue personnel were able to cut her free and get her to shore, where she was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. She did not survive.
This incident highlights the dangers of wearing a leash while in swift-moving waters where it can snag on something, extend out and hold a paddler in a down-current position where they can’t reach the cuff to release themselves.
Dangerous swift-moving waters can be expected in these tidal lagoons, rivers, creeks and bays. To avoid getting caught on objects, use a coiled leash that stays up on the deck of your board, a quick-release leash that can be released from your waist or consider not wearing a leash in waters where current is present. Always wear a PFD while paddling.
Also, be sure to check the conditions when going paddling. Wind, weather and in this case, tide, can all play large roles while out on the water.
Agua Hedionda Lagoon is very close to the SUP Magazine offices and is a frequent flatwater paddling location for the staff. The lagoon has multiple constriction points that are greatly affected by the tides, either incoming or outgoing, that cause eddy lines, severe currents and other hazards. Check the tides before you go paddling in this area or other tide-affected areas.
Be safe on the water.