Missing surfer swept away at Rodeo Beach ID'd; search and rescue effort called off

Image 1 of 6

A missing surfer at Rodeo Beach has been identified as 40-year-old Dan Dafoe of San Rafael, but the search and rescue effort for the man has been called off a day after he was swept into the ocean. 

This comes as conditions in the water have been especially dangerous.

 "Our conditions are about 8-10 foot waves right now, we have about a 14-second gap between waves," said Marin County Fire Battalion Chief Bret McTigue.

The US Coast Guard had resumed their search for Dafoe at daylight on Thursday, but changed the classification from a rescue operation, to a recovery operation, which indicates that they do not believe Dafoe is still alive.

Dafoe was last seen unconscious in rough waters of Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands

The fire department said an emergency call was made at 5:28 p.m. and that the search was postponed until 7:09 p.m.

Initial reports said another surfer was administering CPR to the surfer in danger, but he was found face down at the north end of the beach. Two Good Samaritan surfers tried to bring in the unconscious man to land, but all three were slammed by 8 to 10-foot waves.

The surfers lost contact with Dafoe and he was last seen in the water, near a cave.  That's where rescue crews say they would begin their search on Thursday morning.

According to the other surfers, Dafoe was still attached to his surfboard and were optimistic rescuers would be able to locate his body.

The other surfers are fine.

The search was postponed Wednesday night due to low visibility and "hazardous conditions" according to the fire department.

Dafoe's family, who declined to speak with the media, as well as friends, have been at the beach, holding out hope that he will be found safe.

"The amount of time that's lapsed, the conditions would cause you not to believe that you would not be doing a rescue and that you would be doing a recovery," said National Park Service Ranger Alexandra Picavet.

With this case and one in Santa Cruz County on Monday in which two young people were swept off the shore to their deaths, experts are blaming El Niño, at least in part. "In 2015 alone, we had 77 rescues and 13 fatalities in a four mile radius," said McTigue.

Experts are warning everyone to be careful near the water. "It takes only 6 inches of moving water to knock down a full grown able bodied adult. It does not take a high wave," explained Picavet.

The tough conditions out there aren't expected to get any better. There's high surf advisory in effect for Friday, with waves at Rodeo Beach expected to be 12-14 feet high.