County of Marin - News Releases - Missing Surfer

For Immediate Release
January 20, 2016

Search Resumes for Missing Surfer

Man last seen at north end of Rodeo Beach in Marin Headlands

Woodacre, CA –  Rescuers resumed a search January 21 for a male surfer who was last seen unconscious a day earlier in rough waters of Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands. The search had been postponed January 20 because of darkness and hazardous conditions.

Marin County Fire Department (MCFD) personnel worked with National Park Service rangers, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Southern Marin Fire Department after the initial emergency call was made at 5:28 p.m. Wednesday, according to MCFD Battalion Chief Bret McTigue. The search was postponed at 7:09 p.m. and resume at 6 a.m. Thursday.

The surfer was reported found face-down in the water at the north end of Rodeo Beach, and two Good Samaritan surfers attempted to bring in the unconscious man through surf estimated at 8 to 10 feet high with 15-second intervals. Before reaching the beach, all three were slammed by a large wave and the Good Samaritans lost contact with the injured man. He was last seen in the water near a cave at the north end of the beach.

First-responders arrived, including two swimmers from Southern Marin Fire. Two firefighters used rescue personal watercraft, and the Coast Guard contributed motor lifeboat and a helicopter. “The search was suspended because of limited visibility and the hazardous conditions,” McTigue said Wednesday night. “The helicopter was being used to provide light, but we couldn’t risk keeping our resources out there in those conditions. We will resume the search at sunlight through water, ground and air.”

The National Park Service is leading the investigation. On Thursday morning it identified the missing man as Dan Dafoe, 40, from San Rafael.

Park Service Public Affairs Specialist Alexandra Picavet can be reached at 415-786-8021 or

Rodeo Beach, popular among Bay Area surfers, is part of the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

UPDATE, January 22, 2016:

See the news release from the Marin County Sheriff's office on the positive identification of the missing surfer after a body was found at the beach.


Bret McTigue
Battalion Chief
Marin County Fire Department

33 Castle Rock Ave.
Woodacre, CA 94973
(415) 473-6717
Email: Bret McTigue
Marin County Fire website