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updated: 11/26/2012 7:14 AM

Parents swept to sea in effort to save son, dog

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Associated Press

EUREKA, Calif. -- Family members trying to rescue their dog from powerful surf in Northern California were swept out to sea, leaving a couple dead and their 16-year-old son missing, authorities said.

Waves reaching 10 feet in height pulled the dog into the ocean as it ran to retrieve a stick at Big Lagoon, a beach north of Eureka, said Dana Jones, a state Parks and Recreation district superintendent.

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Jones said the boy went after the dog, prompting his father to go after them. She said the teenager was able to get out, but when he didn't see his father, he and his mother went into the water looking for him.

"Both were dragged into the ocean," Jones said of Saturday's tragedy.

The Times-Standard reports the couple's daughter called police.

Jones said a park ranger had to run a half mile to get to the beach because his car wasn't made to handle the terrain. When he arrived, he wasn't able to get to them because of the high surf, she said.

Rescuers eventually retrieved the mother's body and the father's body washed up.

The dog got out of the water on its own, Jones said.

The Coast Guard deployed a helicopter and two motor life boats to search for the teenager, but the aerial search was suspended by thick coastal fog.

A call seeking the status of the Coast Guard's search on Sunday wasn't immediately returned.

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