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Atascadero man dies after being pulled from heavy surf in Morro Bay

Emergency personnel perform CPR on a man who was overtaken by waves in Morro Bay on Saturday and had to be pulled from the high surf.
Emergency personnel perform CPR on a man who was overtaken by waves in Morro Bay on Saturday and had to be pulled from the high surf. tgibson@thetribunenews.com

A man body surfing in Morro Bay on Saturday died after being pulled under the water by heavy surf, according to a Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center spokesman.

Witnesses said John Robbie Ross, 65, of Atascadero was in the water on the north side of Morro Rock about 10:30 a.m. and was swimming toward the shore when he was pulled back by large waves.

The man struggled for several minutes, and onlookers lost sight of him, only later seeing a body floating in the water as emergency personnel arrived.

No other people were in the water on the north side of Morro Rock at the time.

Water rescue personnel from both the Morro Bay Fire Department and the Harbor Patrol entered the water on the north side of Morro Rock to rescue the man, who was unconscious when they pulled him from the water, according to a city of Morro Bay news release.

The U.S. Coast Guard, State Parks, Cal Fire and the San Luis Obispo County Urban Search and Rescue Team also responded to the incident.

The man was taken to a local hospital while CPR was still in progress, the news release said. Ron Yukelson, a Sierra Vista spokesman, said the man was taken to the hospital in cardiac arrest and CPR attempts failed to revive him.

The man was pronounced dead about 1:20 p.m., Yukelson said. Sgt. Tony Perry of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said the man’s death is being investigated as an accidental drowning, and there’s no reason to suspect foul play.

The waters off Morro Bay are experiencing up to 28-foot swell heights that will continue through Sunday, according to forecasts. The city in the news release reminds residents and visitors that the current ocean conditions are “extremely dangerous and can be deadly.”

Staff writers Lindsey Holden and Travis Gibson contributed to this story.

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