Father, son who drowned in powerful North Bay undertow ID'd

Goat Rock, Santa Rosa

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) - A man and his 6-year-old son drowned as the man tried to rescue the child from a powerful undertow off a Northern California beach, authorities said Monday.

The deaths occurred Sunday near the coastal town of Jenner at Goat Rock Beach, a stretch of shoreline known for dangerous currents.

The 6-year-old and a brother went into the water and were caught in the waves, California State Parks spokesman Mike Lair said. The father went into the water to rescue them, but drowned with one of the sons, Lair said. The other boy was able to swim back to the beach.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department identified the victims as Omar Hernandez, 31, and his son, Axel Medina, 6. The two were from the city of Santa Rosa north of San Francisco.

Goat Rocks Beach was the scene of three drownings last year alone, the Press Democrat said.

The area is posted with signs warning of dangerous waves, but families often ignore both the signs and warnings from patrolling lifeguards, Lair said.

Sunday was "a pretty nice day, and people expect to be able to go out in the water, and it's not safe to go in the water," Lair said.

The state was already buying a lifeguard tower to aid rescue efforts at Goat Rock, he said.