SANTA MONICA BEACH — Ron Hooks of West Coast Care, a nonprofit hired by the Santa Monica Police Department to help homeless people get off the streets, was driving along the beach Thursday morning as part of his rounds when he saw something abnormal.

In the sand, just west of the bike path, on the 2500 block of the beach, Hooks spotted someone laying in the sand. What was unusual about the scene was that the man was not covered by any blankets, nor was he trying to catch a tan. The man was lying face down.

“Something about it was weird to me,” Hooks said.

It turned out that the man was dead.

“He had a big suitcase and it looked like he was trying to drag it across the sand and he just expired,” Hooks said.

Police and fire fighters responded to Hooks’ call for help around 8:45 a.m. The man was pronounced dead shortly thereafter, said SMPD Sgt. Richard Lewis. Police said there were no signs of foul play.

The man’s identity has not yet been released pending notification of next of kin. Police believe he was homeless.

A spokesman with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office said the exact cause of death has yet to be determined.

Hooks believes the man may have suffered a heart attack.

West Coast Care representatives were not familiar with the individual, leading Hooks to believe that he was a recent arrival to Santa Monica.

kevinh@www.smdp.com

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