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A woman from Georgia visiting a California beach with her family died Saturday morning after strong waves hit them, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office confirmed.
Brindha Shunmuganathan, 39, and her two children were at Pismo Beach when a large wave around 9 a.m. knocked them down, authorities said.
According to police, Shunmuganathan and her family stayed in a nearby hotel while on vacation. They decided to go to the beach, and a large wave came up while taking pictures and knocked them down.
Fox26 News reported that family members rescued the two children; however, the mother was stuck on a rock bed and continuously hit by oncoming waves.
Bystanders who saw the event pulled Shunmuganathan from the waters and attempted to save her by doing CPR, police said. The Pismo Beach Police Department told USA TODAY officers arrived at the scene about 9:11 a.m. Saturday, where they tried to save Shunmuganathan.
After several attempts, she was pronounced dead at the scene by medics who came moments later, police said. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office said investigators are waiting for an autopsy to determine Shunmuganathan's cause of death.
Staying safe from massive California waves
This week, the West Coast is expected to experience a swell with big waves and coastal flooding. The strong El Niño pattern in the Pacific Ocean is causing hazardous waves up to 16 feet in size to return to the California coast.
The National Weather Service advises people to stay safe from the ocean. Deadly waves can surge up the beach by at least 150 feet. Experts say it's important to avoid standing on logs on the beach, as large waves can roll or lift these hefty, water-soaked logs, posing a severe safety risk.
Patrick Barnard, a research geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Pacific Coastal Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, previously told USA TODAY the ocean has risen by approximately 10 inches over the last century along the West Coast, and this trend is gaining momentum.
"We're riding on a higher baseline when these larger waves come in, so you tend to have larger coastal impacts, more erosion, and more flooding," Barnard said.
Other recent California waves
On Dec. 30, 2023, The Ventura County Fire Department issued an evacuation warning for some residences bordering Pacific Coast Highway, due to high surf impacting structures in the area.
The recent waves caused significant damage to government buildings in Ventura County, led to erosion of beaches, and resulted in numerous water rescues throughout the state. According to coastal experts and meteorologists who spoke with USA TODAY, the waves are most likely low-frequency, gravity-induced waves originating from offshore, which create a massive runup due to the rough surf and high water conditions.
At least eight people were injured last week in Ventura County when a rogue wave jumped a seawall and cleared out cars and people in its path.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rogue California wave kills Georgia woman visiting Pismo Beach