On July 6, 2014 during a large hurricane swell, Newport Beach veteran lifeguard Ben Carlson drowned while saving a swimmer’s life.
A 15-year veteran of the Newport Beach Lifeguards, Carlson epitomized the spirit of a lifeguard and the Newport Beach community as a whole. He is the only U.S. lifeguard to lose his life in the line of duty.
Filmmakers Tim Burnham and Jack Murgatroyd (who made the acclaimed film “Dirty Old Wedge”) are undertaking a project about the life of Carlson, as well as the full story of the dangers that lifeguards face every day.
Working with the Ben Carlson Memorial and Scholarship Foundation, Burnham and Murgatroyd have gathered many interviews with friends and family up to this point. With last summer having been a little lackluster in terms of big swells, they’re needing some footage of lifeguards in action in big surf.
“Ben’s accident was a wake-up call to the community,” Burnham told The Orange County Register. “What these guy[s] do, and the fact that there’s only been one tragedy in the world of lifeguarding, says a lot about how good these guys really are.”
Murgatroyd chimed in on this sentiment, “The backstory, and an important story to tell, is that of lifeguards in general and how they haven't gotten the respect they deserve in terms of civil services, when compared to cops or firefighters or paramedics. So we felt that telling his story, and the story of lifeguards in general, was powerful.”
The fact that someone like Carlson, who was born to be a lifeguard and excelled at it, could be the only one in the United States to lose his life while on the job at the young age of 32 goes to show how dangerous being a lifeguard truly is. And this film certainly looks to shed light onto that and place lifeguards in the same realm as any of our other civil service heroes.
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