By Scott Graves
Triplicate staff writer
Chad Haberman drove the beach near the mouth of Klamath River for hours Friday, desperately looking for his father, who had been swept into the sea by a wave.
Meanwhile, two United States Coast Guard helicopters streaked across the horizon, scanning the angry ocean for any signs of Alton Haberman.
There were none.
The search was suspended at dark and was expected to start up again today at first light, officials said.
At this point, hes missing but presumed dead, Sgt. Tim Athey said Friday night.
Alton Haberman, 55, and his son, Chad, 26, both of Citrus Heights, were fishing for eels at the mouth of the river at 4 p.m. when they were both swept into the river by a large wave, Athey said.
Chad was rescued immediately by two men standing nearby. The three tried several times to rescue his father from the turbulent water at the mouth but were unsuccessful, Athey said.
For the next five hours, members of the Coast Guard, Klamath Fire Department, Del Norte County Search and Rescue and the National Park Service searched for Alton Haberman.
Chad drove his off-road vehicle up and down the sandspit near the mouth, scanning the river and the 15-foot waves for his dad.
The Coast Guard had launched a helicopter within 15 minutes of the accident, but it was forced to return because of mechancial trouble, said Coast Guard Lt. Toby Taylor.
Two other Coast Guard helicopters one from Humboldt Bay, the other from North Bend, Ore. were sent to the scene, Taylor said.
Other people at the scene searched the beaches and shoreline north and south of the rivermouth, Taylor said.
Athey said the Habermans were visiting relatives living in Del Norte County.
The father and son had fished the mouth of the Klamath often, he said.