Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point title=
Surfer at Rincon Beach (Photo: Fritz Olenberger)
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Update by edhat staff
March 8, 2021

A Southern California surfer passed away following an accidental collision with another surfer at Rincon Beach on Saturday afternoon.

Ojai resident Gerald "Gerry" Gilhool Jr., 51 passed away Saturday and the official cause of death has not yet been determined, according to the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office.

At 1:20 p.m, Carpinteria-Summerland firefighters joined emergency officials to respond north La Conchita on the Ventura and Santa Barbara county line at Rincon Point. 

Witnesses report the waves were large and the water was crowded with surfers. Gilhool reportedly caught a wave while another surfer was in the water rolling under a wave beneath him. Gilhool's board cut the other rider's head and face as Gilhool wiped out. 

He was pulled to shore where emergency personnel arrived and began life-saving efforts. He was then transported to Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura via ground ambulance where he was later pronounced dead.

The other surfer involved in the collision was transported to a hospital but his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

Gilhool previously worked as a tour manager for the band Dawes who posted a tribute on their Instagram page. 

"As anyone that knew him will definitely attest to, Gerry had the biggest personality of anyone you’ve ever met... But when Gerry loved you, when he considered you a friend, he would do literally anything for you," the statement read.


Source: Carpinteria Summerland Fire Protection District
March 6, 2021

On March 6th, 2021 at approximately 1:20 pm, the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Water Rescue Team responded to a report of a surfer in distress at Rincon beach.  Units responded with the Ventura County Fire Department who first arrived on-scene and immediately began life saving efforts.  The victim was described as a man in his 50s.  He was treated and transported to the hospital by Paramedics.  The cause and extent of his injuries are unknown at this time.

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PitMix Mar 08, 2021 07:23 AM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

Really the surprising thing is that there aren't more serious accidents in the water. In terms of injuries, it has to be one of the safest sports out there. Even with the extreme waves they are riding these days.

Eggs Ackley Mar 08, 2021 07:36 AM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

*Rant ahead
Helmets save lives; needing a helmet to protect from other surfers is a sad state of affairs.
Quality surf is a limited resource and the market says the price goes as high as losing your life, RISK ON BABY! What we have here is irrational exuberance and it’s going to bite folks in the backside.
We are not surprised one bit. And this changes nothing. What will it take? Some scion of an über wealthy montecito family being dragged out of the water with his head split open? More hand wringing...then crickets. Y’all bringing your kids to Rincon is going to get them killed, injured or emotionally scarred for life. Heap a dose of entitlement on them and turn em loose. DA should be gearing up for child endangerment charges against parents placing their children in harms way, with clear and present mitigable danger, allowing their under skilled kids to surf any advanced crowded surf spot. You are all on notice: As a parent or guardian, allowing incompetent under skilled children to surf crowded lineups is a huge liability that you have overlooked. Would you give an underage kid a Ferrari and put him on a crowded track with no seatbelt? We have helmet laws for bicycle riders, ummmm...my kid doesn’t need a helmet, he has a $600 wetsuit and $800 board. Helmet $60, life with brain damage: American Express doesn’t cover that.
And those of you paddling out on your softops lacking the skills to stay safe, you are the problem. Don’t bring your beginner friend or girlfriend who has limited skills. Learn to surf at at advanced level before entering the lineup. Maybe consider that you could have a huge impact on your child to make her/him/it have an aspiration, a goal, and work for it rather than the silver platter I keep seeing delivering the”good life”. Do the surf coaches and surf schools have enough insurance to weather a grievous injury or wrongful death lawsuit? How about the parents?

LCP112233 Mar 08, 2021 02:05 PM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

True. Surfing comes with it's challenges and dangers. But where does it say that the death and injury was a result of a young, inexperienced surfer. Give it a break. Rest in peace Gerry.

PitMix Mar 09, 2021 09:40 AM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

Sac, the skier helmets could be enforced by the resorts looking to minimize their liability after Sonny Bono died, among others. No helmet, no lift ticket. Surf spots are little spots of anarchy and rebellion, and I don't see them becoming centers of caution and reasonableness. Especially given how few actual fatalities and injuries occur in the sport. Can list the number of surfers that have died in the waves on one hand (with 6 fingers)- Mark Foo, Donnie Solomon, Todd Chesser, Sion Milosky, Peter Davi and Kirk Passmore.

sacjon Mar 09, 2021 11:58 AM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

PIT - Most mountains do NOT require helmets on adults, and most even not for teenagers, yet almost every single skier and snowboarder wears a helmet now.

PitMix Mar 10, 2021 07:37 AM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

No way SBreader, not from surfing accidents. Maybe from heart attacks or something. I've surfed for decades and I only know one guy, from the 60s, who got skegged in the chest (big single fin) during a wipeout and got a collapsed lung out of it. "Surfing is regarded as a safe sport. Compared to some other sports the overall risk of injury is low (2.2 injuries per 1,000 surfing days or 0.26 injuries per surfer per year) and the large majority of injuries are not serious. "
Cycling. Deaths per 100,000 population: 1.08. ...
Running. Deaths per 100,000 population: 1.03. ...

PitMix Mar 10, 2021 07:51 AM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

Sac, you know how they test motorcycle helmets? The drop them from a height of 6 ft and see how they perform. They're not intended to protect your head from any speeds higher than a crash where you topple over. So now tell me how well you think those lightweight ski and bike helmets perform at 15mph crashes? Not saying don't wear them, but don't have a false sense of security, either.

PitMix Mar 10, 2021 07:53 AM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

Sac you are right, US ski resorts don't require helmets. I guess the liability statement on your lift ticket covers them better than enforcing helmet laws. You know they have crunched the lawsuit numbers for those scenarios.

SBREADER Mar 10, 2021 10:57 AM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

Well I don't know which planet you were surfing on but I lived in Hawaii for years and guys died at Pipeline almost every year. Multiple guys have died in Tahitii. Guys drown all the time, all around the world. What about shark attacks, I suppose that doesn't count in your book?

sacjon Mar 10, 2021 11:04 AM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

PIT - why are you off on a tangent about the efficacy of ski/snowboard helmets? You really don't know what you're talking about, do you? Snow helmets are WAY beefier than bike helmets and are rated to hit ice at high speeds. For the cost of a good snowboard helmet (in the $100s), you can better believe our sense of security is not false. Either way, not going down this rabbit hole you dug. The point is/was that wearing helmets these days is not as "uncool" as you assume.

biguglystick Mar 11, 2021 11:11 AM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

As someone who grew up on the beach surfing all my life, I don't know what you're getting at here with your rant, EGGS, unless you're trying to keep people from paddling out at Rincon. It's not as dangerous as you say, and I don't know a SINGLE surfer who would paddle out with a helmet on. Not ONE. Sorry. Not sorry.

Channelfog Mar 08, 2021 02:19 PM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

Condolences, this is tragic. The line-ups have become too crowded and traditional, mutual respect in said line ups seems to have vanished. Who has the right of way when the surf break is gridlocked and traditions are disregarded?

SBREADER Mar 08, 2021 02:37 PM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

All I can say is the Comments here are uninformed. I have been surfing Rincon for 60 years. It was crowded in the '60s when it was good, it was really crowded in the '70s and ever since. It is one of the best surf spots on Earth and it is right next to the 101! What do you expect. Completely random what happened. I surfed the biggest best waves around here all my Life and big waves on Kauai for 25 years. Never been seriously injured. Accidents happen and it is always better to be lucky than good. The guy who died accidentally ran over the other guy who also got seriously injured, head wound. You never know. The guy who died got knocked out and was found face down in the water. Probably drowned and then had a heart attack.

CoastWatch Mar 08, 2021 07:05 PM
Surfer Dies Following Accident at Rincon Point

All sports have risks, so does life....Then of course you could just sit in your living room with your mask on and watch TV... RIP to the surfer who went out there doing it.

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