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Eureka family members drown trying to rescue their dog from surf

Howard Kuljian, his wife, Mary Scott, and their 16-year-old son drown while attempting to rescue their dog from the powerful surf at Big Lagoon, a beach north of Eureka.

November 27, 2012|By Wesley Lowery, Los Angeles Times

A Northern California community was in mourning Monday after three members of a family — including a teenage boy — died while attempting to rescue their dog from the powerful surf.

The Humboldt County coroner said Howard Kuljian, 50, and his wife, Mary Scott, 54, of Eureka, Calif., drowned Saturday after rushing into the water at Big Lagoon, a beach north of Eureka.

Officials say the family dog had run into the ocean to fetch a stick when it was pulled in by waves. The couple's 16-year-old son, Gregory Kuljian, ran in after the dog, prompting his father to enter the water as well.

The teenager was able to return to shore, but when his father did not surface, Gregory reentered the water with his mother to search for him.

Rescuers eventually retrieved the mother's body, and the father's body washed up. Gregory's body has not been found.

The dog got out of the water on its own, said Dana Jones, a state parks district superintendent.

A Facebook page has been set up in memory of Gregory.

Friends described him on the page as an upbeat and caring person, according to the Associated Press.

"I will always remember him no matter how long," one wrote. "Especially how he was such an upbeat happy person or how he tried to put up 'Be Happy' propaganda posters he drew around school."

wesley.lowery@latimes.com

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