A teenager and his parents were swept out to sea one by one after the boy tried to save their pet dog, which was overtaken by 10-foot-waves while running on the beach.
The family, which included the parents, son, a daughter and their dog were at Big Lagoon beach, about 30 miles north of Eureka, Calif., on Saturday when the incident occurred, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The dog was playing fetch with a stick on the steep beach when the 10-foot-swell came in, according to Coast Guard Lt. Bernie Garrigan.
"The beach is incredibly steep, and we had 10 foot swells... come through there Saturday, and it is really really steep, so the 10 foot waves smashes directly on the beach. They were throwing a stick for the dog, and the dog ran too close to the water and got pulled in," Garrigan said.
When the dog was overtaken by the wave and pulled out into the ocean, the 16-year-old boy went in after him and it was quickly apparent that the boy was in trouble.
The parents then went in to rescue the boy, according to Garrigan. All three were pulled out to sea. The dog managed to find its way back on shore and survived.
The daughter never entered the water, Garrigan said.
The Coast Guard did not release the names of the family members.
The Coast Guard and Humboldt County Sheriff's Department responded to a 911 call about the individuals in the water, sending a helicopter and two rescue boats to scour the water.
The bodies of the parents were found onshore later Saturday. The search for the boy continued Saturday and Sunday but was suspended today. Garrigan said the sheriff's department was making periodic checks of the beach.
"The Coast Guard gives our condolences to the family. We have done and are doing all we can," he said.