BEN DID GO and nine years later we still remember!

By Tom Johnson – July 05, 2023

Source: Stu News Newport

It’s hard to believe that Thursday, July 6 will mark nine years since the passing of Newport Beach Lifeguard Ben Carlson. He was special to so many people, as his unexpected and untimely death would prove.

On that Sunday, in 2014, shortly after 5 p.m., a Newport Beach rescue boat identified a swimmer in distress off 16th Street. The surf at the time was six-to-eight feet.

Ben, as everyone knew, entered the water to make that rescue and swam to the man, making contact, before they were both hit by an unexpected large wave. The swimmer Ben was attempting to rescue was successfully pulled from the water, but Ben was not.

The statue of Ben Carlson seemingly saluting the fireworks offered from last year’s Christmas Boat Parade show

The statue of Ben Carlson seemingly saluting the fireworks offered from last year’s Christmas Boat Parade show

Lifeguards, the fire department, a police helicopter, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol, lifeguards from Laguna Beach and State Parks’ personnel joined in the search. Twenty-five entered the water that evening and another 30 supported from the air and shore.

Ben was eventually located around 8 p.m. and shortly thereafter was pronounced deceased.

He was only 32 years old.

Since that day, friends, family and the community have not forgotten his bigger-than-life presence.

Today, a nine-foot marine-grade stainless steel statue/sculpture of Ben sits on a concrete pedestal in the center of McFadden Square, near the Newport Pier, overlooking his Pacific Ocean.

And, a foundation in his name celebrates his life annually, raising funds for scholarships and making many other community contributions in his name.

Three words rose up from that day that still echo through this community nine years later, BEN DID GO!

We should all remember Ben this time of the year, because he and others that worked alongside of him make our life better and safer each and every day here in Newport Beach.

To support the foundation in his name, go to

By Tom Johnson – July 05, 2023

Source: Stu News Newport

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