I was 8 years old when the earthquake happened. I was fishing with my dad, a friend and his dad in Laguna Beach in Southern California. We were fishing from a rocky promontory about 8 feet above sea level. This huge wave came out of nowhere. It seemed 20 feet tall. My dad rushed me against a cliff edge, which saved us from being dragged into the water. Many others were not so lucky, including my friend.
I remember we got him out of the swells that kept coming ashore. My friend’s dad and my dad were able to secure and rescue my friend as the waves kept pushing him against the rocks. He was battered and bruised but did not require more attention than the nearby lifeguards could give him. Others were not so lucky. Some people who were not pulled out within the first few incoming swells had to be hospitalized for their injuries.
It was a few years before I matured enough to find out I was in a tsunami. Another few years to realize where the tsunami came from. As I lived along the San Andreas Fault line, I have been at the epicenter of two earthquakes, 6.7 in 1971 in S. California and a 7.0 quake in Santa Cruz in N. California. Neither was as dramatic or as personally damaging as an earthquake from over 2,000 miles away. As an aside to this, I was skin diving many years later and found the fishing pole that belonged to my friend’s father. It had not been in that spot the previous year and came to see it to verify it was his missing pole.
Tom Mealer – Laguna Beach, California