Dante Torres, Malibu Kite Surfer Possibly Vacationing From Dubai, Dies in Tragic Kelp Accident
Dante Torres, 28, became entangled in a bed of kelp as he surfed the waters of Malibu's Topanga County Beach -- just off Pacific Coast Highway -- says Assistant Chief Ed Winter at the L.A. County Coroner's Office.
And a spokesman for the L.A. County Fire Department adds that Torres was "apparently in distress in the kelp bed" ...
... when paramedics received a 911 call, around 6:20 p.m., of a man drowning off Topanga Beach Road. According to the Fire Department, Torres was not breathing once he'd been dragged to the beach some 20 minutes later.
L.A. County Sheriff's officials tell City News Service that "a lifeguard who was watching Torres and another kite surfer ... saw the victim hit the water. Moments later, his rig became airborne, but the kite surfer stayed down."
One kite-surfing website recommends that only "experienced" riders launch from Torres' beach of choice:
"Kites are launched on the northern part of Topanga beach, just south from the beach houses. The beach is quite small, depending on tide and season it can be rocky and the buildings cause a wind shadow which makes the launch a little more tricky. I only recommend this spot for experienced kiters. Once in the water, stay north of where the surfers lineup. Topanga can be a good wave riding spot. Beware of rocks close to the shore in the shallow waters. It often starts blowing early, between 1 and 3pm, but is also shuts down earlier than further out in Malibu. Be prepared for some dusty gear, the beach sand is mixed with dust and dirt, especially when you get closer to the street."
An iconic American Apparel store sits right at the tip of the surf spot, located at the intersection of PCH and Topanga Beach Road.
We haven't been able to confirm Torres' place of residence yet (the Coroner's Office is still working on that, despite an Associated Press report), but Assistant Chief Winter does say that the victim's race is Pacific Islander.
A Facebook user with the same name, race and age -- who apparently loves outdoor sports, including extreme cycling and kite-surfing -- appears in photos arriving at LAX on Saturday. He's listed on Facebook as a native of the Philippines who now lives in Dubai. This man also participated in a bike ride from Tibet to Nepal last summer.
Dante Torres, the apparent kite-surfing victim.
From a foreign newspaper's account of that feat, headlined "Cycling Over The Roof Of The World":
"On the third cycling day Dante Torres suffered a frightening attack of Acute Mountain Sickness and had to receive emergency oxygen. But a day later he was back on his bike and raring to go."
Strangely, on the same morning that Torres drowned, another dead body was discovered in Malibu -- that of 44-year-old Pepperdine University athletic chaplain Maurice Hilliard. When we called the Fire Department for more information on Torres, the public-affairs officer kept getting the two cases confused.
Update, 3:30 p.m.: A Venice kite-surfer called "wavehucker" posts confirmation of Torres' identity to the iKiteSurf forums. He writes that he "spoke to the lifeguard" at Topanga, who gave him the following details:
- Dante Torres traveled here with his family from Dubai and just arrived the day before the accident on Sunday. He's originally from the Philippines
- Dante was wearing a shortie wetsuit, water temp is about 55 °F, but yesterday evening felt really cold. He was found in the kelp.
- Dante was face down in the water "pretty far away" from his kite and board. No sign of head trauma, cuts or bruises.
- No sign of line-tangle on his legs, or any other bar or line entrapment.
- Looks as if he released his kite, the guard couldn't speak about his safety line and couldn't say if it was still rigged.
- He was not breathing and the lifeguard performed CPR with trach, to no success.
- The rescue was deployed from Santa Monica by boat.
- Dante was taken so St. Johns, his father was at the scene.
Here's a Facebook photo of the victim and his father, a Los Angeles resident also named Dante Torres, at LAX.