The statue and historic marker are designed not only to honor past and present lifeguards, but also to memorialize 13 victims — all Army servicemen — who lost their lives in Ocean Beach in 1918 during a mass drowning.
The project will be submitted to the state of California for a historical designation marker. According to organizers, about half of the $30,000 has been raised toward the cost of the statue and memorial.
If all goes as planned, organizers hope to have the statue and memorial finalized by next spring or summer.
Among the organizers behind the fundraising event was former City Councilman Byron Wear and attended by such notables as District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer and KPBS “Wonderland” series host and documentarian Noah Tafolla.
Funds raised will be used to establish a 6-foot 2-inch lifeguard bronze statue meant to honor the history of San Diego’s city lifeguards and memorializing the 1918 victims whose fate created a cry for improved lifeguard protection along San Diego and Southern California beaches.
The sculpture created by artist and Point Loma High graduate Richard Arnold was envisioned by Judge Bob Baxley, a former Ocean Beach lifeguard and author. The project is part of the Ocean Beach Lifeguard Station Safety and Enhancement Project, in cooperation with the city and community groups of Ocean Beach, including the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, Ocean Beach Town Council, Ocean Beach Foundation, Ocean Beach Historical Society, Sunset Cliffs Surfing Association, San Diego Lifeguard Alumni, San Diego Lifesaving Association, San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation and citizens across San Diego.
Tax-deductible donations may be made by checks to: San Diego Lifesaving Association (SDLA), P.O. Box 99025, San Diego, 92169; or call (619) 224-0560 or (619) 840-1403.
Program supporters hope to have the statue and memorial installed for unveiling at the Ocean Beach lifeguard station in the near future.
For more information about the San Diego Lifeguard History Project, visit www.sdlifeguardhistory.org