Friday, June 29, 2012

This is my beach!

If pictures speak a thousand words this one begins, Mary was too tired to make the effort to climb down those 60-stairs to get a picture of an automobile nose diving in the surf...

June 29, 2012, walking home from downtown Main library, I  saw a police helicopter circling the beach area up ahead. Passing Long Beach Museum of Art on Ocean Blvd. noticed huge sign: Free Fridays. I contemplated going inside. Checking the time, closing in about a half-hour, dressed scuzzy, decided not to. Walked to back of building, where people along a fence were admiring the ocean view.

Actually what they were doing was watching a gray, barge-like boat, circling a red boat. A man said, "Let me know how it turns out," as he walked away. I said, "Well, if they are trying to tow it, they are not doing a good job of it."

The gray boat would circle, sail straight out, then turn and circle the red boat some more, hence my assumption of towing. "Oh, that is what the helicopter was about," I thought. Unusual for police copters to be searching for criminals so close over the ocean. Not that it never happens, just rarely.

Bored with watching, I continued my walk. Oops, I had not noticed the car with its nose in the surf. When I got closer, I took two cell phone photos, from different vantage points. Could not see the car in either of them.

I heard a man say "someone drove their car into the ocean." I tried to determine how the driver got to that point by studying the tire circles in the sand. Later read newspaper account. Driver had been driving "erratically" in the parking lot before driving onto the sand and into the water. Witnesses said the man was yelling, "This is my beach!" and kept repeating his Social Security number.  A comment on the article said the man was actually yelling out his phone number.

When the car stopped about 4' into the surf, driver got out, started swimming, lifeguards grabbed him, held him for police' arrival. The passenger jumped out of the car also, but headed for the bluff. News article does not say if he was caught, perhaps long gone by the time helicopters arrived to do a search via air.

The beach was crowded ~ but do not tell that to anyone ever been at the Jersey Shore ~ crowded for us, that is. Lucky, very lucky, the erratic drive did not harm anyone. Jersey Shore with its wall to wall beach blankets, towels, chairs, no way a driver could maneuver past them all to drive into the ocean.

Of course, I missed the exciting part of this event. Not much to watch; gray boat took off, red boat would back up, go forward, go in a circle. A bunch of police officers standing around doing nothing. A small tow truck parked on beach, driver's side door ajar; several cop cars on the sand and in the parking lot; life guards and their transportation. May have been fire vehicles, do not recall.

Everyone just standing there, as a man in fisherman type wading boots seemed to be using a tow line to try to pull the car out of the water. Why not use the tow truck to pull it out? The wader guy must have been the tow truck driver. He went into the mini-waves, opened the car's driver's side door, got in, did something. Released a brake? Three cops, walk over, peering into the passenger side window. Soon all four car doors were open, police leaning inside. Looking for drugs?

Or, at that time, I wondered if the driver was passed out on the seat, because I had no information other than "drove his car into the ocean." More lifeguards drove over, got out to chat. Cops started leaving. Interesting that one driver was pulling the vehicle up onto a parking lot curb. The other one, squeezes past that car's tail end, to round the bend of parked cars, picks up speed and stops alongside another cop car parked at the other end of the lot.

The car on the curb, backs up, then proceeds to back up all the way back to the end of the lot where the other cop cars were. Weird! Why not just go around the bend as the other driver did. I was bored watching, so continued my journey home, looking back now and then to see if the tow truck started doing its job.

It would not have taken much effort to go down those stairs for an up close look at the car in the water and a better image. I was tired. Knew I would have to either walk all the way to Belmont Shore, then home or walk up the street ramp sidewalk to Bixby Park, then walk home. Legs bothering me too much to contemplate adding even one more step to my walk.

Surprised that the few comments I read on articles about this Long Beach news event, no one said what seemed obvious to me. His beach, meaning, not for the non-English speaking, many likely illegal immigrants there. That would make some sense with the yelling of his SSN. Unless, he was like me, who once could truthfully say, "My beach" because I adopted it as part of Long Beach's clean-up program. My beach!

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