A dangerous high surf is hitting LA and Orange County coasts. A beach hazard statement will be in effect for all west-facing beaches until Wednesday morning. Hetty Chang reports from Huntington Beach for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014.
A beach hazard issued by weather officials warning beachgoers about dangerous high surf conditions caught even the most experienced swimmers and wave riders off guard Tuesday.
With the helpful eye of onlookers who came to the beach to check out the high surf, lifeguards at Bolsa Chica State Beach and Huntington Beach rescued several surfers, including Kyle Wagstaff, who was on his standup paddle board when a big wave knocked him right into the water.
"Don't even get near the shore break today," Wagstaff said.
"A great big set came in. It was probably about 12 to 15 feet. It was just like a mountain of water coming at me. The leash just snapped like it was spaghetti," Wagstaff said as he held up the now-broken heavy-duty leash he bought just for that day’s surf session.
William Coon, a state lifeguard, rescued Wagstaff who he said was at least 800 yards out from shore.
"Well, it was crazy we were looking out there we couldn't see you," Coon said to Wagstaff. "You were so far out. The waves were so big."
"He was caught in a trough. Even the most experienced guys out there, you have to be careful," Coon said.
Not too long after Wagstaff's rescue, lifeguards were sent to another call.
"We had another surfer with a broken foot," said Jeff David, state lifeguard chief for Huntington and Bolsa Chica state beach.
Waves reaching 10 to 12 feet at Huntington Beach had many beachgoers in awe.
"Here comes some big boys over there!!" said Pete Moreno, who has been surfing for at least 20 years.
He watched as powerful rip currents moved two surfers south toward the pier.
"There's a gnarly current. You see how they're moving south? They're just getting sucked on over there!"
The highest surf was expected at west-facing beaches -- from Manhattan Beach to Cabrillo Beach, according to an advisory from the National Weather Service. The beach hazard statement was expected to be in effect until Wednesday morning.