Rescues Up Over Busy July 4 Weekend

Deputies patrol Zuma Beach during the Independence Day weekend closure.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic that has many still sequestered in their homes, it was a fairly busy weekend for some first responders in Malibu over Independence Day weekend. Typically, the July 4 weekend can draw as many as 250,000 visitors to the area over a three-day period. With local beaches closed due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, lifeguards were spared from the usual ocean rescues they perform during holidays, but elsewhere people in trouble needed help from first responders.

Thursday, a speeding driver plunged over Stunt Road into the dry brush of the Malibu hills. A 9-1-1 call went out just after 9 p.m. on July 2 for an injured teenaged driver and a car fire and small brush fire the accident ignited. As of deadline on Tuesday, July 7, there was no word on the driver’s condition.

One of the youngest members of Malibu’s Volunteers on Patrol had a July 4 he won’t forget any time soon. He saved the life of a heart attack victim in Point Dume. Connor Blake was first on scene when the emergency call came in. The 23-year-old performed CPR until the first fire unit arrived and then continued as fire personnel prepared to take over. According to the fire captain on scene, it was later reported, Blake’s actions saved the man’s life.

“It has been a very busy June and July,” David Katz, Malibu Search and Rescue team leader, told The Malibu Times on Monday. “June was a record month with 23 call-outs. Just as we thought July might calm down we were mistaken. We had nine calls in the first five days of July. That’s 32 calls in the last 35 days.”

MSAR attended to four calls for help on July 4, plus one call on July 3 and two calls on July 5. The calls included rescues for hikers suffering from heat exhaustion, injured bicyclists and two brush fire calls.

Asked about wearing masks, Katz replied, “We’re wearing masks as best as we can.

“If we have to exert in 90- to 100-degree weather, you do your best,” he continued. “You can’t hike for a half hour with patients and be wearing the mask the entire time. Sometimes the people we care for are wearing masks. Other times they’re not. It’s just kind of the luck of the draw as far as who we encounter. The folks we generally encounter are out exercising, enjoying the outdoors.”

Katz noted the MSAR is already at 82 calls for 2020, which is another record-setting pace for his team. There were 83 calls at this time last year. But he pointed out this past April during stay-at-home orders MSAR had zero calls.

“We are up significantly the last several months,” Katz said, surmising, “People just want to get out.”

But, overall, people did heed orders to stay off Malibu beaches. The Lost Hills Sheriff’s station reported 20 officers were out patrolling beaches but no incidents were reported.