The article below was originally published in The San Francisco Chronicle on November 26, 2012 by Ellen Huet
Emergency crews called off the search for a 16-year-old Eureka boy who went missing in the ocean after his parents drowned Saturday trying to save him in 10-foot waves, officials said.
The boy had entered the ocean to rescue the family dog, which survived the tumultuous ocean and returned to shore alive.
The missing boy, Gregory Kuljian, and his parents took their dog to Big Lagoon state beach north of Eureka with the boy's 18-year-old sister Saturday, said Dana Jones, district superintendent for the state parks department.
Around 12:50 p.m., the family was throwing a stick for the dog to fetch in the water when the dog disappeared in the surf, Jones said.
The boy went into the water to rescue the dog, and when he was caught by a wave and disappeared, the father, 50-year-old Howard Kuljian, went into the water and the mother, 54-year-old Mary Scott, followed. Their 18-year-old daughter called 911, Jones said.
When a state park ranger arrived on the scene, he had to park a half mile away and travel on foot because of the steep terrain around the beach, Jones said. The ranger saw the mother and pulled her out of the water, and he and a bystander began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The ranger then pulled out the father. Both parents were pronounced dead at the scene.
Pamela Brittenburg-Anderson, a neighbor of seven years, recalled the family as active members in the tight-knit community.
She said Mary Scott always greeted neighbors with a warm smile.
"They were wonderful people in every way," Brittenburg-Anderson said. "Everyone is shaken about it. They really loved each other. This is just a terrible loss for our community."
U.S. Coast Guard units searched by air and on water for the teen over the weekend but later called off the search, which was hampered by dense fog, Jones said.
The beach in that area is particularly steep, both above and below water level, and can be dangerous when waves are strong, Jones said. Officials usually warn, "Don't even stand on wet sand on those kinds of beaches," Jones said, though the beach is open to the public.
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