Samaritans who helped keep a stricken surfer alive after he collapsed Thursday at San Clemente’s T-Street Beach say they are praying for his recovery.
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According to witnesses’ accounts, the man staggered to shore with his longboard about 1:40 p.m., threw the board down and collapsed, landing on his back while not quite out of the water.
Darren and Joy Mettler of San Clemente said they were on the beach, heard the surfboard hit, realized something was wrong and ran to help. Bob Frazer, a general contractor working on a house atop the bluff, saw the man stagger and fall, called 911 and shouted for others below to help.
The Mettlers described the surfer as pale and unresponsive. His lips were blue, they said.
Others arrived to help – at first trying what Darren Mettler called “untrained CPR” as it seemed the only option. Others arrived who were able to do proper CPR. A lifeguard in Tower Zero on the San Clemente Pier saw people gathering on the shore at T-Street and sent help just as the call arrived from the county via 911.
Lifeguards pulled up and were “amazing,” Mettler said.
Marine Safety officers Nick Giugni and Blake Anderson and lifeguard Allan Bayer applied CPR and used an automated external defibrillator donated by Helena Jacobson’s Ray of Life Foundation.
The AED “is probably what saved his life,” Anderson said. He also praised the efforts of the beachgoers who rushed to assist.
Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills today confirmed the patient’s identity as Jay Campbell, 52, of Foothill Ranch. He was listed in stable condition, under intensive care. He had first been taken to Saddleback Memorial’s San Clemente campus, then transferred. The Mettlers, concerned about him, followed him as did Sarah Gicalone of San Clemente, who had assisted with CPR at the beach.
“We all did quite a bit of praying for him on the beach,” Gicalone said. “Surfers here are like a family. We do what we can do.”