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"Sneaker wave" claims another life in California

EUREKA, Calif. A so-called "sneaker wave" claimed the life of a woman in Northern California Sunday, the third such tragedy in the region this winter, authorities said.

The unidentified 32-year-old woman was waking on a beach near Shelter Cove in Humboldt County with her boyfriend and dog when a wave swept her out to sea, the Coast Guard said.

Her body was brought to shore after a roughly 45-minute search by boat and helicopter.

An officer with the Shelter Cove Volunteer Fire Department told the Eureka Times-Standard the woman's boyfriend avoided being swept away by climbing on top of a rock.

"The ocean today was extremely hazardous," Duty Officer Cheryl Antony said Sunday. "The waves were about 10 to 15 feet. It was very, very hazardous for them to be out there."

So-called sneaker waves, the kind that suddenly roar ashore, have washed four people into the region's waters this winter.

A man and his wife were walking on the beach near Point Reyes on New Year's Day when a wave overtook their dog. The couple went into the water to rescue the dog and the man was swept away. His wife and dog made it safely to shore.

In November, a couple drowned and their 16-year-old son disappeared while trying to save their dog at a beach near Arcata. The dog, who survived, was chasing a thrown stick when it got pulled into the ocean by 8- to 10-foot waves.

"Winter is an especially dangerous time (on beaches in Northern California), and sneaker waves can catch beach goers by surprise, washing them into the sea," the Coast Guard said in a statement. "People walking along the beach should not turn their back to the ocean."