26 Feb Hero Newport Beach lifeguard could soon be immortalized in bronze

The surfers who routinely flock to Newport Beach in California may soon be greeted by a life size statue commemoration of one of the beach’s true heroes in recent times, the late lifeguard Ben Carlson, who died while rescuing a stricken swimmer last July.

News of the possible statue of Carlson, who was just 32 years old when he became the first lifeguard to die at the beach after disappearing under 10 to 12 feet waves during the rescue, was reported by the Los Angeles Times. The report said that city leaders and members of the Ben Carlson Memorial and Scholarship Foundation were presently determining whether to erect a nine-foot tall statue of the lifeguard at the Newport Pier or Balboa Pier.

It is expected that at the next meeting of the Newport Beach Arts Commission, the statue plans will be discussed and action potentially taken. A long-time friend of Carlson, Josh Yocum, said that there was a positive response to the most recent plans for the statue when they were presented by members of the foundation at a recent Arts Commission meeting.

Yocum commented: “We’re so grateful that the community has shown support for this effort in the months following Ben’s act of valor. It has been astonishing.”

Nor should it be a surprise that plans are afoot to pay tribute to Carlson in custom bronze art form. The experienced lifeguard died just four days after his 32nd birthday, on July 6, after getting caught up in heavy surf during the rescue of a distressed swimmer.

On a chaotic day that had already seen more than 200 people rescued at the Orange County beach, Carlson responded to a call to help a struggling swimmer to the east of one of the main piers. The lifeguard of 15 years’ experience climbed into a rescue boat and sped out with other guards, before jumping into the water.

However, while the swimmer – who was not named by authorities – was brought to the shore and survived, Carlson disappeared under the water, prompting a three hour search for him by air, water and foot. He was pronounced dead late that day.

Current plans are for the statue commemorating his life to be made from stainless steel or bronze, with a silver or gold matte finish, while sat on a three-foot granite base. The proposal is for it to depict Carlson clutching a rescue tube or fins, with his left hand shading his eyes as he looks in the direction of the ocean.

These plans certainly sound entirely befitting for such a heroic figure to us here at Big Statues, and as leading makers of custom bronze art ourselves, we only hope that the finished statue does Carlson’s much-admired feats and character justice.

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