The new bronze lifeguard statue next to the main lifeguard station at 1950 Abbott Street in O.B. was unveiled on May 23. About 200 people, an ROTC color guard from Point Loma High School, a bagpiper, and many others paid tribute to lifeguards past and present.
Former San Diego city councilman and lifeguard Byron Wear was the master of ceremonies. Michael Martino, a lifeguard supervisor who wrote Lifeguards of San Diego County, told of the day back in 1918, when 13 people drowned in the rip currents of O.B. Out of this tragedy, the lifeguard organization was formed.
Mayor Bob Filner and city-council members Kevin Faulconer and Lorie Zapf were in attendance. Many retired lifeguards and old surfers (including Jim “Mouse” Rob) got up and spoke to honor the deceased. Each person who died that day in 1918 had their name read and a bell was rung after each one, as junior lifeguards ran out into the water in tribute.
Richard Arnold, the artist who designed and sculpted the statue, said the statue wasn't modeled after anyone in particular, but just showed a muscular man with his head looking out to sea.