Lifeguard believes Wood could have been saved

FILE - The 55-foot yacht "Splendour," belonging to actor Robert Wagner and his wife, actress Natalie Wood, sits in the waters off Catalina Island in Santa Catalina, Calif., near the site where Harbor Patrol personnel and lifeguards discovered the body of Wood, an apparent drowning victim, Nov. 29, 1981. Los Angeles sheriff's homicide detectives are taking another look at Wood's 1981 drowning death based on new information, officials announced Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Harrington, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The lifeguard captain who helped pull Natalie Wood's body from the water nearly 30 years ago says he believes the actress could have been saved had a search begun earlier for her.

Former Los Angeles County supervising rescue boat captain Roger Smith tells the Los Angeles Times that he was alerted that Wood was missing at 5:11 a.m. on Nov. 29, 1981. That was some four hours after she went missing from a yacht off Santa Catalina Island during a trip with her husband Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken.

Smith said based on the condition of her body when they pulled her from the water, he believes she survived for some time and was blown out to sea.

The Sheriff's Department reopened the death investigation last week.