SM BEACH — The Santa Monica Police Activities League is spear-heading fundraising efforts for the family of Jesus Torres, former president of the nonprofit’s Youth Leadership Council and corporal in the Santa Monica Police Explorer Post who currently resides in intensive care.
On June 20, Torres, a 21-year-old recent graduate of the University of California Santa Cruz, went swimming in the ocean with a group of friends when he was believed to be caught up in a riptide that drowned him, said Lt. Richard Lewis of the Santa Monica Police Department.
With the help of various emergency and health professionals and unidentified citizens, Torres was revived, but his prognosis remains unknown, Lewis added.
Mike McIlroy, captain at the Lifeguard Headquarters on Santa Monica Beach, said that riptides are by far the biggest cause of rescues in the area, even when it comes to experienced swimmers like Torres.
He explained that riptides forming near large structures like the Santa Monica Pier or jetties are particularly dangerous traps.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced swimmer. If you get banged around in there you’re going to get injured, or worse,” McIlroy said.
McIlory added that swimmers should always check with a lifeguard to identify potential areas where riptides can occur. Should a swimmer get caught in one, he recommends they not panic, not let go of any floatation device if they had one and to swim parallel to the shore until they can escape the pull.
As family and friends pray for his recovery, Eula Fritz, director of the Santa Monica Police Activities League, said that setting up a fund to cover Torres’ medical expenses and support his family was an easy decision to make.
“This is the least we can do for the young man,” Fritz said.
Fritz added that Torres was always a dependable role model who accomplished whatever he set his mind to, including becoming the first of his family to graduate from college.
Virgil Torres, Jesus’ older brother who also served in the Explorer Program, said that his brother is a fighter and has hopes for his recovery.
He explained that his parents instilled a sense of community service throughout their childhood. When he heard of the fundraising effort he said he was shocked and broke down in tears.
“I’m really happy because it shows how all our hard work pays off. The community we give to is now giving back to us,” Virgil Torres said.
Community members interested in helping the Torres family can send monetary donations to the Jesus Torres Fund at 1401 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, Calif., 90404.
In addition to collecting funds themselves, the California Pizza Kitchen located at 210 Wilshire Blvd. is partnering with the league to donate 20 percent from every check on Wednesday, July 17 to the fund.
Visit the Santa Monica Police Department’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/santamonicapd to download the promotional flyer needed to participate in the fundraiser at the restaurant.