ENCINITAS — Nearly 500 people gathered on the bluffs, beach and in the water for a “Paddle Out for Blake” event on August 24 at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas to honor the life of Blake Dresner, a local lifeguard who passed away in a surfing accident in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, earlier this month.
A 23-year-old Encinitas native, Blake was a lifeguard with the Encinitas Marine Safety Division since 2018, traveling the world to surf iconic beaches in Bali, Australia and Mexico.
While surfing with friends on August 15 in Mexico, Blake suffered a fatal injury from his surfboard. Despite being a highly experienced surfer, scuba diver and swimmer, Dresner’s injuries were insurmountable for medical professionals on the scene.
Allison Dresner, Blake’s sister, remembered her brother’s lively spirit, his love for the ocean, and the strong impact his death had on the Encinitas community.
“He was the life of the party,” Allison said. “He had this goofy smile that everyone was always drawn to.”
On Wednesday, the Dresner family landed at McClellan Palomar Airport and was met by an honor guard consisting of lifeguards from Encinitas, Carlsbad, Solana Beach and California State Parks, and personnel from the Encinitas Fire Department, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and Carlsbad Police — all of whom helped escort Blake back to Encinitas.
A “Paddle Out for Blake” event on August 24 was one of three events honoring the beloved lifeguard worldwide, with similar events being held in Australia and Mexico.
Gathering at Moonlight Beach, Encinitas lifeguards passed out facemasks to those present on the beaches and bluffs before participating in the event themselves.
Encinitas Lifeguard Capt. Larry Giles described the connection between Blake, his co-workers at the Marine Safety Division, and the greater Encinitas surf community as “tight-knit” and “long-lasting.”
“It’s definitely been difficult to lose him during the summer to an aquatic, mortal injury but there was no way he could survive [such an injury.] It has resonated here with this community because we’re all tied into the water… we surf, we respond to calls up and down the area, and for one of your co-workers to pass that way has a big impact. It’s a huge loss for the lifeguard community,” Giles said.
“Blake was such a good waterman to begin with and his knowledge of our local beaches and waters made him a perfect candidate to be a lifeguard,” Giles said. “He was able to see things in the water that most people didn’t because of his high situational awareness and excellent surf skills.”
The family of Blake Dresner is accepting donations in his honor with the mission of further educating Marine Safety professionals on responding to traumatic water-related. The family also told The Coast News it will release further information in the coming week.