25-Year-Old Oakland Firefighter Drowns in San Diego, Four Years After Firefighter Dad Died on Duty

A California firefighter drowned in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego on Thursday, June 27, four years after his father, who was also a firefighter, died on the job, the Oakland Fire Department announced on X (formerly known as Twitter)

Published Time: 28.06.2024 - 03:31:04 Modified Time: 28.06.2024 - 03:31:04

A California firefighter drowned in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego on Thursday, June 27, four years after his father, who was also a firefighter, died on the job, the Oakland Fire Department announced on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Caeden Laffan, 25, died around 2 a.m. on the north side of the Pacific Pier south of the La Jolla neighborhood in San Diego, San Diego Fire Chief Colin Stowell said, reports KTVU 2. He was in San Diego for the California Summer Firefighter Games.

A call to the San Diego Police Department was made at 1:56 a.m. The San Diego Lifeguards and US Coast Guard crews began a search of the coastal area near Grand Avenue. Laffan's body was found north of the pier around 4:15 a.m., reports FOX 5/KUSI.

Laffan was swimming with a friend in the ocean, and it is “possible” alcohol could have been involved, said SD Fire-Rescue Lt. Rick Romero, per FOX 5/KUSI. Before he went missing, he was on the shore with friends and a family member. He then went into the ocean about chest to waist deep, took a couple of strokes, and then went missing.

"We searched for a couple of hours with a rescue boat, land units, and a Coast Guard helicopter," Lt. Romero said, per KTVU 2. "We weren't able to locate him. We were doing our last patrol on the shoreline, and our lifeguard sergeant spotted him. He had washed onto the beach on the north side of the pier. Unfortunately, incidents happen. And it's just a sad story."  

Laffan graduated from Oakland's Recruit Academy class in 2019.

“Caeden Laffan was a young enthusiastic member of the Oakland Fire Department, with a br -

ight future ahead of him, and we’re all heartbroken today after learning of this tragic event,” Oakland Fire Chief Damon Covington said in a release. “Our hearts go out to the entire Laffan family, and all who know him, worked with him, and loved him."

Stowell said that although Caeden wasn’t a firefighter in San Diego, "all of our firefighters are part of our family,” per KTVU 2.

He continued: "I just wanted to give my condolences to him and my pledge to make sure that he knew we would treat his firefighter like one of our own down here." 

Laffan's father, Sean Laffan, was also a member of the Oakland Fire Department. He served as assistant chief until his death in 2020. Sean died of a heart attack while on duty in November 2020. He was 42.

After his father's death, Laffan spoke to KTVU 2 about his father’s legacy and his plans to follow in Sean's footsteps.

“I knew I wanted to be an Oakland firefighter because of my dad. He inspired me the second, I got out of high school to pursue my EMT and paramedic license,” Laffan said.

"We had about 10 years we could have worked together in the fire department," Laffan added. "It got cut short to a year but I loved every second of it that's for sure."

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A representative for the San Diego Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for more information on Thursday.

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