A father drowned at a California beach while trying to save his 2 children

A father drowned at a California beach while trying to save his 2 children
Reuters/Dan Kitwood
  • A family of four was walking on a beach in Sonoma County when a "sneaker wave" swept all of them into the ocean.
  • The children were swept into the surf and their father Michael jumped in to try to save them.
  • Michael's body was recovered by his wife and other bystanders on the beach, but the children's bodies have not been recovered, the Press Democrat reported.

A father and his two young children recently died in the California surf when a large wave knocked them into the water.

Michael Wyman, 40, was with his wife and two children near Blind Beach in Sonoma County, California. The local ABC affiliate reported that there were warnings about high surf, but the family had been walking on the beach. That's when a sneaker wave - an unexpectedly large swell after smaller surf - knocked all four family members into the water.

Michael and his wife Sarah were able to get out of the water, but the children, seven-year-old Anna and four-year-old John, were swept in. When Michael jumped in to save them he also drowned. Sarah and other bystanders on the beach were able to drag him out of the surf, but he had already died, the Press Democrat reported.
"The herculean and ongoing rescue efforts were led by the mother and wife, Sarah Wyman, alongside the brave and self-sacrificing fellow hikers followed by the search and rescue teams," an obituary for the family reads.

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Greg Probst of the California State Parks said that sneaker waves can be very dangerous, and were responsible for other drownings on the same beach, according to ABC.

The children's bodies have not been found. Probst told ABC that law enforcement was continuing to look for and recover the children's bodies.

Soon after the drowning, the children's mother established a scholarship fund in their memory at the local Jewish School that they were set to attend. "While Anna and John won't get to participate personally, their presence will be felt and their memory honored at Petaluma Hebrew," a webpage for the fund reads. "It is our hope and wish that The Anna and John Wyman Scholarship Fund will be a lasting legacy, and keep Anna and John (Chana Aviva and Gershom Yaakov) near and dear to our hearts."

The family had recently moved to Sonoma County from Oakland, California.

"Michael's commitment to family is evident in the manner of his death, as he heroically caught up to John on the beach but then drowned under the extreme force of the water while holding his son and trying to reach his daughter," the obituary said.