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Old 02-17-2021, 11:16 PM   #1
hbmike
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Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

Dear Friends and Family,

As many of you may have heard by now, our 28 year old son, Joshua Michael Bouma, went missing freediving for lobster with his best bud Daniel Burke Saturday February 13th around 9:45 pm at El Morro State Park. Josh was a very experienced freediver, surfer, and waterman, and must have dove the same spot a hundred times before. In deteriorating conditions with increasing swell size and a strong south current, Josh was separated from his dive partner in heavy surf. Unable to find his partner, Daniel called me, then 911 immediately after Josh went missing. Although the conditions were difficult, we knew with Josh’s experience and equipment he had a great chance to make it through the night and were hopeful we’d find him with a bag of lobsters in one of the neighboring coves asking us what all the fuss was about. Chief John Rose from the US Coast Guard along with Ranger Paul Andrus from California State Park Service coordinated a heroic multi-agency search for Josh along with the Laguna Beach Lifeguards, Laguna Beach City Fire & Police Departments, OC Sheriff’s Department, and other agency lifeguards. People and resources were arriving on scene within the hour with a rescue helicopter, response boats, and multiple lifeguards in the water following soon thereafter hoping to find Josh safe. They searched well into the night and into the morning and until dusk the next day. They covered 138 square miles and 21 hours of continuous searching by sea, land, and air. I greatly appreciated Chief Rose taking the time to listen to my reasoning of why Josh had the experience, equipment, and knowledge to have a real chance to make it through this crisis and he told me this was in part the reason they extended the search until dusk the following day. The amount of time, personnel and resources everyone coordinated for our son, gave Josh a real chance. The willingness of every member of every team to put themselves in harm’s way in very rough conditions to save one soul truly makes them heroes.

Daniel Burke did a great job of reaching out to the OC Spearfishing community to ask them to watch out for any sign of Josh, but most importantly please be safe. From the time the Coast Guard and local authorities suspended their search for our son, our friends and family were not just there to offer their support but took immediate action to help in the search. Paul Caputo and Morgan Hill coordinated to take my son Evan and I out on Morgan’s boat first thing the following morning to search the coves. By the time I stepped off of Morgan’s boat, Hayden Socci and Ryan Miller were there to pick me up on Ryan’s boat and we were scanning the coast with high-powered binoculars. I visited with Perry Boyer from Beach Cities Scuba, Laguna Beach to ask if he could put the word out to the Scuba Dive community to please look out for any signs of equipment that may have washed up into the neighboring coves. I also asked if he had any master level recovery divers that could help, and he said I may be getting a call. Within an hour of leaving the shop I received a call from Chuck Hudson, a scuba instructor that runs privatized rescue company who offered to organize his 4 man team within hours. We picked up Chuck’s team from Ryan’s boat and had the first dive going that day. Chuck and his team were an amazing group and again we were blessed to have these guys sent to us. Chuck’s team dove again the next morning as well but did not find any signs of Josh. This was bitter-sweet as we were fearful of what we may find but we had to bring Josh home.

As I came in off Ryan’s boat Tuesday, Jeff Mitchell reached out and helped me search around the point at E-bay. Mitch Zehner arrived as well and just as we were going to head to another cove, I received a couple calls – one from Hayden and the other from Daniel that said they heard through the community that a diver had been pulled out of the water at Church surf spot just below Trestles about 20 miles south. Although the authorities could not verify anything, we headed straight down, and many more family and friends followed as well. I had enough info from the community to know that we had found Josh before I even arrived. To the surfers that pulled Josh out of the water and the friends in the community that made the calls, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Although we were absolutely heart-broken of finding our son lifeless, you helped give our family a tremendous amount of closure to see him as he lay. Josh looked truly peaceful, and from what we could surmise from his condition he was likely knocked unconscious in the heavy surf and did not suffer. Most importantly, our family believes he went in peace.

For those of you that have not seen Josh for some time, you may know in the past he was going through some personal struggles and mental health challenges. Josh overcame these tremendous struggles and these past several months have been a Godsend. He was happy, optimistic about the future, with a new job, new car, and back to the old Josh. Spearfishing, surfing, and fishing every spare moment he had and re-engaging with friends & family. I’m attaching a few recent photos of Josh from the past couple months including two from a last minute trip we took up to Rincon where scored epic surf and a wonderful spearfishing trip to Catalina. The last dive I had together with Josh was with him and Daniel just last week. Within 15 minutes Josh shot his halibut and he was so excited he speared a fish that he could take home and cook for his Grandma and Grandpa.

Josh passed diving and doing what he loved, and was found by his surfing brothers. Although this doesn’t make the loss of Josh any less tragic, what we take most comfort in is that these past several months we were all back together as a family and Josh was reconnected with old friends. He loved everyone and knew he was loved by all of his family and friends and for this we truly believe he is now at peace.

Thank you again for all your love and support and apologize if I haven’t been able to respond to many of you. We plan to have a celebration of life for Josh that we’ll announce at a later date, but the next day or so we just need to catch our breath, be with our closest family members, and grieve for the loss of our son.

I pray you all will be safe in what you do and when the opportunity to get together with a friend or family member comes up, you take it.

With Love,

Mike, Christine, Corrin, and Evan Bouma
Huntington Beach, CA
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Old 02-17-2021, 11:26 PM   #2
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

God Bless.
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Old 02-17-2021, 11:54 PM   #3
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

Mike and Family!

So sorry for your loss. Thoughts and prayers.

Pat
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Old 02-17-2021, 11:55 PM   #4
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

Hard to find words after reading something like this. I know many were hoping for a different outcome, but your report, which was no doubt hard for you to write with events so fresh, shows that a tremendous effort went into finding Josh. Now he can live on in memory of all those who knew him.

Last edited by popgun pete; 02-18-2021 at 05:05 AM.
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Old 02-18-2021, 12:01 AM   #5
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

Thank you so much Mike; it's hard to describe having such a heavy heart right now, that is at the same time filled with joy for what Josh accomplished for himself and his family.
Please keep us posted.
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Old 02-18-2021, 11:05 AM   #6
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Arrow Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

Mike, I have an only child named Lauren and I can imagine the pain and suffering of losing a child. Rest assured Josh is in heaven in eternal peace. My condolences to you and your family. Tony
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Old 02-18-2021, 12:26 PM   #7
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

Thank you for sharing your story about Josh and the community we are all a part of. I extend my greatest condolences as a fellow father, and Spearo.

I will keep Josh in my memories, along with the others we have lost, as a constant reminder. The reminder is not just to dive safe, but to dive extra safe. There is no doubt in my mind that a life will be saved, because another diver will learn from this situation. Mistakes and accidents are never accounted for in what we think is “being safe.” We are a group of risk takers by nature, and should all remain vigilant in asking ourselves to dial it back, and focus on making it home.

Josh has made his way to a different home this time, joining the many watermen reflected in sunsets and sunrises we soak in at the shores of mother ocean. May god embrace Josh into his kingdom, in Jesus name, Amen!

-Rich
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Old 02-18-2021, 02:51 PM   #8
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

Dear friends and family of Josh Bouma,

Please accept my deepest condolences. I am new to this board, but I felt moved to sign up because it seemed like the most appropriate way to communicate with Josh's family and the larger community. Mike, Christine, Corrin, and Even, I am so sorry for your loss.

I am humbled and honored to have been a part of the recovery effort which helped bring Josh to shore that evening. After I spotted Josh outside the lineup and brought him into neck deep water, I was able to get help from another surfer who was also out there at the time. The other surfer, Austin, just 22 years old, conducted himself with composure and respect. We were able to bring Josh to shore with a great deal of dignity and honor. The first responders were amazing and proceeded to give aid accordingly.

Below is a picture of a rock cairn that I erected on the beach that evening at sunset in honor of Josh. From what has been said about Josh and his love of the ocean, it was fitting that God provided an incredible sunset to bring closure to this chapter.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Sincerely,

Ryan G. Kloostra

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Old 02-18-2021, 03:26 PM   #9
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

My condolences to the family and friends of Josh. I'm glad a level of closure was had. Please take care.
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Old 02-18-2021, 08:48 PM   #10
hbmike
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

Hi Ryan,

I wanted to let you know that you and Austin have affected our lives forever. Not just from the actions you took to bring Josh home, but the kind words that you have provided us here. I’m sure you recognize the Bouma name as being a fellow Dutchman, which also has special meaning to our family. I’m going to PM you my contact information and would like to speak with you personally if that is ok. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for this final act of kindness from the community to help bring us some closure to this tragic loss.

Mike Bouma

Quote:
Originally Posted by DutchSurf View Post
Dear friends and family of Josh Bouma,

Please accept my deepest condolences. I am new to this board, but I felt moved to sign up because it seemed like the most appropriate way to communicate with Josh's family and the larger community. Mike, Christine, Corrin, and Even, I am so sorry for your loss.

I am humbled and honored to have been a part of the recovery effort which helped bring Josh to shore that evening. After I spotted Josh outside the lineup and brought him into neck deep water, I was able to get help from another surfer who was also out there at the time. The other surfer, Austin, just 22 years old, conducted himself with composure and respect. We were able to bring Josh to shore with a great deal of dignity and honor. The first responders were amazing and proceeded to give aid accordingly.

Below is a picture of a rock cairn that I erected on the beach that evening at sunset in honor of Josh. From what has been said about Josh and his love of the ocean, it was fitting that God provided an incredible sunset to bring closure to this chapter.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Sincerely,

Ryan G. Kloostra

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Old 02-19-2021, 02:18 AM   #11
rojodiablo
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

Quote:
Originally Posted by DutchSurf View Post
Dear friends and family of Josh Bouma,

Please accept my deepest condolences. I am new to this board, but I felt moved to sign up because it seemed like the most appropriate way to communicate with Josh's family and the larger community. Mike, Christine, Corrin, and Even, I am so sorry for your loss.

I am humbled and honored to have been a part of the recovery effort which helped bring Josh to shore that evening. After I spotted Josh outside the lineup and brought him into neck deep water, I was able to get help from another surfer who was also out there at the time. The other surfer, Austin, just 22 years old, conducted himself with composure and respect. We were able to bring Josh to shore with a great deal of dignity and honor. The first responders were amazing and proceeded to give aid accordingly.

Below is a picture of a rock cairn that I erected on the beach that evening at sunset in honor of Josh. From what has been said about Josh and his love of the ocean, it was fitting that God provided an incredible sunset to bring closure to this chapter.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Sincerely,

Ryan G. Kloostra

Very heavy burden to bear........ I guess that when we come to understand we are a part of the ocean, and the bigger family of those who enter her realm, we are truly at her mercy. She gives us so much....... from time to time, she takes back. It's an understanding that people who don't live their lives engrossed in the ocean often do not understand.

Thank you very, very much for taking care of Josh, and bringing him home. I know it wasn't easy, and you certainly did not ask for the responsibility...... But we really owe you a debt of sincere gratitude. Thank you, very much. Paul.
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Old 02-19-2021, 09:40 AM   #12
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

Quote:
Originally Posted by DutchSurf View Post
Dear friends and family of Josh Bouma,

Please accept my deepest condolences. I am new to this board, but I felt moved to sign up because it seemed like the most appropriate way to communicate with Josh's family and the larger community. Mike, Christine, Corrin, and Even, I am so sorry for your loss.

I am humbled and honored to have been a part of the recovery effort which helped bring Josh to shore that evening. After I spotted Josh outside the lineup and brought him into neck deep water, I was able to get help from another surfer who was also out there at the time. The other surfer, Austin, just 22 years old, conducted himself with composure and respect. We were able to bring Josh to shore with a great deal of dignity and honor. The first responders were amazing and proceeded to give aid accordingly.

Below is a picture of a rock cairn that I erected on the beach that evening at sunset in honor of Josh. From what has been said about Josh and his love of the ocean, it was fitting that God provided an incredible sunset to bring closure to this chapter.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Sincerely,

Ryan G. Kloostra

Thank you Ryan for your compassion and respect. This is just another reminder of the uncertainty of tomorrow.

I really appreciate that you both brought in Josh with "Dignity and honor"

RIP Josh
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Old 02-19-2021, 11:50 AM   #13
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

Mike - I can't imagine how difficult this is for your family. God bless, be strong.
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Old 02-19-2021, 12:44 PM   #14
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

I donned a mask and snorkel for my very first time at that same location some time ago, and this tragedy has led me to repeatedly reflect on the life altering ocean based journey that has since ensued. I can recall seeing the passion come through in the stories Josh shared over the years, and it never waned. He had a very real connection with the ocean and loved to share his passion and knowledge with family and friends. Simply put, it often seemed he was having more fun at what he was doing than anyone else. He was doing it right.

Mike~ there is an energy in the photos you’ve shared that make it clear Josh was exactly where he was supposed to be in life. I am so sorry for this huge loss. I will keep you all in my thoughts.

RIP Josh
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:40 AM   #15
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Re: Thank You From the Bouma Family For Your Heroic Efforts, Love & Support

Hi Mike,

I am heartbroken for you. Having dove with Josh numerous times, I knew his love of the ocean was deep. I can still remember the stoke he had for the sport on our trip to Catalina with you and Evan, I took my personal best calico on that trip and there couldn't have been a better trip to have that memory. Although I hadn't spoken to Josh in a while, I am glad he made a recovery and continued his love of the sport and the ocean. A true waterman through and through.

My heart goes out to you and your family.

Rest in peace Josh, and may you have clean surf and great vis for eternity.
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