Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Off-Duty Firefighter, 25, Drowns at San Diego Beach

An Oakland firefighter drowned while swimming off the coast of San Diego on June 27 – just four years after his firefighter father died on duty.

25-year-old Caeden Laffan, who was in town for the California Summer Firefighter Games, had worked with the Oakland Fire Department since 2019.

Just before 2 a.m. the San Diego Police Department received a call about a missing swimmer in the Pacific Beach neighborhood, which prompted a search of the area. His body was eventually discovered at around 4:15 a.m. north of the Pacific Pier.

firefighter drowns
The tragic incident happened off the coast of Pacific Beach in San Diego

According to San Diego Fire-Rescue Lieutenant Rick Romero, Laffan was swimming in the ocean with a friend and was in waist-deep water before he went missing. Alcohol ‘could have’ been involved but it has not been confirmed.

Lieutenant Romero said they searched for a couple of hours using land units, a rescue boat, as well as a Coast Guard helicopter but wasn’t able to find him. It wasn’t until their final patrol around the coast that he was spotted by their lifeguard sergeant.

Laffan, who is described as a ‘young enthusiastic member of the Oakland Fire Department’, graduated from Oakland’s Recruit Academy class in 2019 and joined the department shortly afterwards.

sean and caedan
Caedan (right) was inspired to become a firefighter by his father (left)

Damon Covington, the Oakland Fire Chief, said in a press release that they are all ‘heartbroken’ after learning about the tragic incident. He said their hearts go out to ‘[his] entire family and everyone who knew, worked, and loved him’.

Colin Stowell, the San Diego Fire Chief, also offered his condolences to him and his family, though they did not work together.

Laffan’s father, Sean, was also a firefighter and had worked for the Oakland Fire Department as assistant chief up until his death in 2020. He collapsed and died of a heart attack on the job in November 2020. He was 42 years old. Laffan was a probationary firefighter at the time of his death.

sean laffan
Laffan’s father was a San Diego firefighter up until his death in 2020

Following his father’s death, Laffan said he planned on following in his steps and becoming a firefighter. After graduating high school, he pursued his EMT and eventually obtained a paramedic license.

When interviewed, Laffan spoke about how his dad had inspired him to become an Oakland firefighter and how there were 10 years they could have worked together side by side, but that it got cut-short.

Laffan’s younger brother, Cooper, is also involved in the fire department, having joined the Oakland fire academy as a new recruit.

Their mother is also a peer support outreach specialist at the fire department.

Covington said the San Diego fire department will do whatever they can to support the Laffan’s as they’ve suffered ‘such great loss’.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.


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