Oakland firefighter, 25, drowns in San Diego

A 25-year-old Oakland firefighter drowned early Thursday morning in San Diego.

His mother, Sabrina Laffan, identified him to KTVU as Caeden Laffan. She was too heartbroken to say more.

San Diego Fire Chief Colin Stowell said that the young man died about 2 a.m. on the north side of the Pacific Pier south of La Jolla.

Fire officials said that he had been with a friend swimming in the water and that alcohol may have been involved.

The fire department said the firefighter was in town for the California Summer Firefighter Games.

An Oakland firefighter drowned at a San Diego beach. June 27, 2024. Photo: On Scene TV 

"We searched for a couple of hours with a rescue boat, land units, and a Coast Guard helicopter," San Diego Lifeguard Lt. Rick Romero said. "We weren't able to locate him. We were doing our last patrol on the shoreline, and our lifeguard sergeant spotted him. He had washed onto the beach on the north side of the pier. Unfortunately, incidents happen. And it's just a sad story."

Video at the scene showed yellow tape and police and fire vehicles lining the sand.


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The Oakland Fire Department is mourning the loss of Assistant Chief Sean Laffan. He died Monday night after suffering a heart attack while at work.

A woman and a man were also seen hugging in a somber embrace.

Stowell said that it was a "very difficult call" to make to Oakland Fire Chief Damon Covington.

"All of our firefighters are part of our family," Stowell said. "It doesn't matter what agency they work for. I just wanted to give my condolences to him and my pledge to make sure that he knew we would treat his firefighters like one of our own down here."

KTVU featured the Laffan family in 2020 after Caedan Laffan's father, Sean Laffan, who was Oakland's assistant fire chief, died of a heart attack while on duty.

During that interview, Caeden Laffan, the oldest of three sons, said he had wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and had been hoping to work alongside him for many more years.

"We had about 10 years we could have worked together in the fire department," Caeden Laffan said at the time. "It got cut short to a year, but I loved every second of it. That's for sure."

Firefighting is a legacy in the Laffan family. 

Caeden's maternal grandfather also served as a firefighter, and his younger brother, Cooper, is in the fire academy now. 

His mother runs a business that offers mental health services to fire crews, and she often works with the Oakland Fire Department.

Some of the crews from Laffan's firehouse, Station 3, were on the scene of the Pacific Supply roofing company fire when they learned of Caeden Laffan's death. 

"We're going to reach out and support our membership, but we're really going to try to reach out and support the Laffan family," said Covington, who planned to fly to San Diego and help bring the young man's body home. "They've suffered such great loss. It's almost incomprehensible how much loss you can really suffer and still remain standing, so we're going to support them as much as we can." 

Fox 5 San Diego contributed to this report.