Los Angeles Man Rescues Drowning Woman Near Paradise Cove

LA County Lifeguards respond to Khosrow Khosravani’s mayday call to rescue a female swimmer thought to have been in the water for 12 hours.

As a “total newbie” sailor, Khosrow Khosravani had just completed his training behind the helm of his 25-foot sailboat, SV Defiant. With newfound sailing skills freshly learned, the Los Angeles man invited three guests to sail out of Marina Del Rey to Malibu on Sept. 26. Their fateful trip was Khosravani’s first ever voyage outside the harbor as captain and just may prove to be his most memorable.

With safety on his mind, the new sailor trained his guests before they left the harbor on what to do if he or another person went overboard.  That training proved to be lifesaving as the four-person crew rescued a drowning woman near Paradise Cove.

“We were lucky,” the 59-year-old captain said of his guests whom he had just trained. Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) lifeguards say it was more than luck that saved the woman who was near death. They credit Khosravani and his guests with saving her life.

Matthew Rhodes is a rescue boat captain for LACoFD Ocean Lifeguard Division. He was called to the scene of the near drowning after receiving a mayday transmission. The United States Coast Guard relayed that the SV Defiant “picked up a person out of the water about three miles off Paradise Cove.”

“It was pretty gloomy conditions,” Rhodes later described. And it was a cold 66 degrees in the water. “We went out as quickly as we could. We transferred a 26-year-old female from their sailing vessel to our rescue boat.”

The victim, suffering from severe hypothermia, was described as having a gray skin tone due to her condition.

“Her vital signs were abnormal. She was weak and had a slow heart rate,” Rhodes said. “She had poor circulation from being so cold. She looked very exhausted.” Although Khosravani and the lifeguards say the drowning woman had difficulty opening her eyes and speaking, she managed to give her name and age while struggling to describe her predicament. The woman—who for privacy reasons will not be identified—reportedly told rescuers that she went for a midnight swim alone Saturday. She described how she became disoriented as the nighttime current swept her adrift. That timeline means the woman was alone at sea for roughly 12 hours, since she was discovered Sunday at noon. 

“It’s extraordinary,” Rhodes said of her survival. “I can’t imagine being in the water without a wetsuit or some type of protection for warmth for that period of time and actually live. The amount of energy she must have used to stay afloat—it’s amazing she was able to battle through. She must have felt she was literally all alone in the ocean.”

She was alone, but luckily for the victim, SV Defiant was nearby.

“We were following a pod of dolphins,” Khosravani explained. “We got so excited. I had never experienced that before.

“We started filming them,” the captain continued. “Then I thought I saw a hand waving.” After turning the boat for a closer look, Khosravani didn’t see anything and dismissed his earlier sighting. Once the boat got closer, “again, the hand went up,” he described. “She was exhausted. Her muscles weren’t even functional at that point.” The crew immediately went into rescue mode. One guest on the sailboat pointed her finger in the direction of the swimmer so Khosravani wouldn’t lose her in the waves. A lifeline was thrown, but the victim was too weak to grab it. After a second attempt, the woman was able to grab a floatation device that Khosravani had bought just days before the outing. The crew cut the engine and pulled her toward the vessel. A ladder was lowered.

“We had a hard time bringing her up. She had zero power—zero muscle capability,” Khosravani said. He and his crew wrapped the woman in blankets.

“They picked her up out of the water, which is very difficult to do,” according to Rhodes. “They did a great job.”

The woman was eventually transported to UCLA Ronald Reagan Hospital where she was reported as expected to survive.