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Teen who tried to save dog presumed dead

SAN FRANCISCO -- The search was called off yesterday for a teenager whose parents drowned after they plunged into the cold, powerful surf in a nightmarish chain of events that started when their son tried to save the family dog.

Mary Elena Scott, 57, and Howard Gregory Kuljian, 54, of Eureka, Calif., drowned Saturday, said Ariel Gruenthal, a deputy coroner in Humboldt County. Their son, Gregory James Kuljian, 16, has not been found and is presumed dead.

Powerful 10-foot waves had pulled the dog into the ocean Saturday as it ran to retrieve a stick at Big Lagoon, about 300 miles north of San Francisco, authorities said.

The boy went after the dog, prompting his father to attempt a rescue, said Dana Jones, a state parks district superintendent. The teenager was able to get out of the waves but then went back into the water with his mother in search of his father.

"Both were dragged into the ocean," Jones said.

The dog got out of the water on its own. The couple's daughter and the boy's girlfriend watched the tragedy unfold. A bystander called police, but by the time help arrived, it was too late.

Jones said a park ranger ran a half-mile to get to the beach because his car couldn't handle the rugged terrain. When he arrived, he wasn't able to get to the family members because of the high surf, she said.

Coast Guard Lt. Bernie Garrigan said the search for the teenager was stopped because without a wet suit he could not survive in the frigid waters for long.

Rescuers eventually retrieved Scott's body. Howard Kuljian's body washed ashore.

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