County’s closed-door Mavericks “debrief” yields no news

Posted by on Wed, February 24, 2010

The county’s closed-door meeting on the near-tragedy at Mavericks on Monday concluded with a press release from the county Sheriff that sounded like it could have been issued by the event’s organizers. The meeting was reported by Julia Scott from the County Times:

[county Sheriff’s Office spokesman] Lunny issued a news release at 5 p.m. that made only passing mention of what happened on the morning of Feb. 13, when at least 15 surf spectators on Mavericks Beach were injured by a series of heavy waves that ripped across the beach. Three of the spectators were taken to the hospital with fractures, according to public safety officials.

"The general consensus was that the event was well coordinated and with one big exception, went well. The obvious exception was the so-called ‘rogue wave’ which unexpectedly washed ashore and created a brief havoc when several onlookers as well as Maverick’s crew were swept up and pushed backward," stated the release, which did not elaborate on how the public safety response could have been better coordinated.

Not one, but several ‘rogue waves’ overwhelmed the surging crowd that morning, causing a stampede that trampled a number of victims and left many people covered in sand, cuts and bruises. Several booths and tents were swept away. The waves shorted out the PA system on the announcer’s booth, preventing contest organizers from warning people that the tide was rising and the waves were coming in.

Many spectators had ventured well beyond a protective sea wall to try to get a view of the big-wave surfers. They ignored a large warning sign erected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which reads, "Danger: extremely hazardous waves. Hazardous wave conditions exist even on calm days. Waves can wash over structure and sweep people into ocean."

The county plans to hold a public meeting about the mess in the future.

Comment 1
Wed, February 24, 2010 8:43pm
Kevin Barron
All my comments

Lotsa selective “journalism” on this: from “debrief”, no I think it was a debrief. Lots of choice descriptors on this one. In the SMC Times we see Jeff Clark is salty-as-ever on MSV (spare me Jeff, you know you wouldn’t of done a thing, much how to pull it off logistically) so I’ll take his rhetoric for what it is. And Julia’s usage of “some observers said” is right out of the Katie Couric playbook. A lot of other “observers” have said the opposite, including HMB Reviews informal poll that resulted in over half the respondents say that the organizers aren’t on the hook, and people should take responsibility. But we don’t get the other view, much less popular opinion… that would go against op.ed. opinion vs. providing “journalistic coverage”. Just my observation.

Wake me when ya’ll decide which witch you decide to hunt down. However, my pitchfork will stay in the hay bale on this one.

Comment 2
Thu, February 25, 2010 6:23am
Barry Parr
All my comments

First, I agree with Kevin that Julia’s use of “Some observers said event organizer Mavericks Surf Ventures fell short of its responsibility to protect spectators, ...” wasn’t journalism.

However, it wouldn’t be difficult to find some observers who would say that.

But…Katie Couric? Really? You’re not still smarting over those interviews with Sarah are you?

At the CFPD Regular meeting on the 24th, Battalion Chief Ari Delay(one of the “debrief” attendees) provided details to the Board of the planning, extra staffing put on at CFPD’s expense, numbers treated, numbers transported, response time, time to transport and impact on other non-event Coastside emergencies.  There was a Board discussion, after Chief Delay’s presentation about future policy toward the event.

Rather than paraphrase and condense a contentious issue, I’d refer those interested to  Darin usually has the webcast up by midday Friday.  Chief Delay’s presentation was in the Chief’s Report in about the last ten minutes of the meeting.  At the start of the meeting, there was a short and interesting presentation by CalFire Local 2881 of the range of training they receive and a recent award, a presentation mid meeting by Chief Ken Lords on cliff rescue training with a rather dramatic news video and the usual contentious Fire Board politics mixed in elsewhere.