California

Cake still waits for 14-year-old who drowned on his birthday at San Francisco beach

Screengrab from GoFundMe

A cake purchased at Safeway to celebrate the 14th birthday of Bereketabe Yohannes still sits in the refrigerator at his San Francisco home after he headed to the beach on a scorching day, KTVU reports.

But he won’t be coming home.

Bereketabe drowned Monday on an outing to Crissy Field Beach with friends before a birthday celebration with his family, according to the TV station. Now a GoFundMe is raising money to bury him in his family’s home country of Ethiopia.

“He said he’d be back in a minute or two,” said father Dawit Yohannes, KTVU reported. “Everything is lost. He was my lovely boy.”

Bereketabe, who “reportedly did not know how to swim,” began struggling after going into waist-deep water with six or seven friends about 2 p.m., KGO reported.

His friends could not keep his head above water despite their efforts to help, KPIX reported.

“These kids did everything right for a group of kids that are about 14 to 15 years old,” said Lt. Jonathan Baxter of the San Francisco Fire Department, reported an earlier KTVU story. “They realized their limits. They got out of the water. They called 911, they called their family. “

Beachgoer Cristine Balderston said she also searched for Bereketabe, KGO reported.

“I was in the water swimming around trying to find him for about five or 10 minutes before the rescue team got there,” Balderston said, according to the TV station. “I just wanted to help any way I could and I wish I would have been able to.”

A rescue diver found Bereketabe in the murky water about 90 minutes later, KGO reported. Rescuers tried to resuscitate him but he was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

He had not told his family he was going to the beach, KTVU reported.

Use these tips to save yourself from drowning.

A GoFundMe account established by his school is raising money to pay for Bereketabe’s funeral in Ethiopia.

The GoFundMe page describes him as a spirited teen who had just finished 7th grade at Claire Lilienthal School. It had raised $54,000 of its $75,000 goal as of Thursday.

“Nothing can replace Bereketabe, but we hope this effort will relieve some of the family’s stress and bring an element of comfort and support to them, during this heartbreaking time of deep loss,” classmates wrote.

On Wednesday, the body of Tony Carnill Foster Jr., 34, of Marin City, was found off Stinson Beach, where he had vanished Tuesday, The Mercury News reported.

High temperatures that had been hammering the Bay Area this week abated somewhat Thursday, reported The San Francisco Chronicle.

Crissy Field Beach lies along the northern shore of the Presidio of San Francisco near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water. Rip currents account for 80% of beach rescues, and can be dangerous or deadly if you don't know what to do. This video shows you how to break the grip of the rip.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.
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