Body found at beach identified as missing Palo Alto woman

Shireen Agha Ahsan, 19, had been missing since she was swept into the water at Bonny Doon Beach

A body found at a Santa Cruz County beach Monday evening has been identified as a Palo Alto woman missing since last week, a sheriff's spokesman said Tuesday.

Shireen Agha Ahsan, 19, had been missing since she was swept into the water at Bonny Doon Beach on Jan. 18 and was found by a bicyclist at Strawberry Beach around 5:30 p.m. Monday, sheriff's Lt. Bob Payne said.

The bicyclist was riding along the 2600 block of Coast Road near agricultural fields and saw the body on the beach near the surf line at Wilder Ranch State Park, Payne said.

The Santa Cruz County coroner's office was also called to the scene and worked with deputies to recover the body, he said.

Solaiman Nourzaie, 25, of San Jose, was also taken out into the water with Ahsan on Jan. 18, according to Payne.

Crews are continuing to search for Nourzaie by water and air along the coast, Payne said.

Ahsan and Nourzaie were both sophomores at UCSC, according to university officials.

"Words cannot express the sorrow we feel as a campus community," a message from UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal reads. "(Ahsan) was well loved and admired as a role model on campus and in life. At Kresge (College), she was active in her college community as an academic assistant with the core course and with the Muslim Student Association. ... She will be deeply missed."

Ahsan's family has created a Facebook page in her memory.

A program to remember Ahsan is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the university's Namaste Lounge at College 9/10 in Santa Cruz.

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30 people like this
Posted by Memory
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2016 at 1:42 pm

I am so sorry for this family's loss. This is the essence of tragedy.

It will be a long time before anyone is ready for this, but educating people about the ocean and finding ways to prevent such unspeakable loss in the future could be a way to honor their memories. This is not the first time something like this has happened by any means, but even if people are careful it can be hard to realize the dangers. I have been very meticulous about warning relatives who visit about the dangers and yet my own mother was almost washed into the ocean by a big wave because she went too close on an outcropping. I was trying to get her away from the danger zone before it happened when my young son went running after his grandmother because he was worried, even though he didn't swim well at that age. I was so angry and so scared. We were just lucky that it didn't end like this, my mother still tells about the scary experience not remembering my trying to warn her. Some kind of public service ad showing how unpredictable waves are after they seem predictable might help? No one should have to go through what these families must be enduring now.

20 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2016 at 2:03 pm

Yeah, there are always signs about dangerous surf, but I don't think people pay much attention to them. At the very least, maybe a film about safe ocean practices for incoming students at UCSC? Keep an eye out for waves, know when the low and high tides are, what to do if caught in a rip tide.

A beach that's safe one day can be extremely dangerous the next.

5 people like this
Posted by Memory
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 9:35 am

I think also, given the motion of waves, it's easy to develop a sense of ebb and flow when standing near the shore, but the ocean does not behave in such a predictable way. Some visual demonstration of rogue waves, and someone taking a deeper look at such tragedies all at once might really help. I've lived in the Bay Area a long time and what has struck me is how often such tragedies have happened when people were not engaged in particularly risky behavior.

I'm so sad for these families. I hope the authorities keep working so that at least both families can recover their loved ones for burial. It's so true, words cannot express.

5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 10:24 am

This young lady was technically a woman, but she was still a teenager at the beginning of her life. It is so very sad and lots of sympathy to her parents and family who are grieving.

Sympathy to the Gunn community also as they grieve again.

Sympathy to the family of the other missing young man who are still awaiting news of his remains.

8 people like this
Posted by Mother
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2016 at 11:02 am

I did something that haunts me to this day and almost brings me to hyperventilate when I am reminded of it. It was a warm summer in S.F. and I took the kids to the beach across from the zoo because we had seen the beach the day before when we visited the S.F. Zoo. There was a sign, but it was only a "No Lifeguard on Duty" sign. About half an hour after the kids were in the water, a man told me that he surfs at the beach and there were riptides that day and my son was too far out (waist level) and should come back. I thank God for sending this angel to warn me (and I'm not religious). My life would be different if something awful had happened. The signs should be more detailed and include "DANGEROUS WAVES AT TIMES. Swimming not recommended. Enter at your own risk." This would keep laypeople away.

Here's some helpful information on riptides: Web Link

7 people like this
Posted by cur mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 27, 2016 at 11:26 am

7 short words--Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean.

Terrible tragedy. Surfers and regular beach goers know this. Someone posted a video of a sneaker wave at Coos Bay last week, which was widely viewed on social media and news outlets. Web Link

5 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jan 27, 2016 at 11:52 am

Alphonso is a registered user.

I am glad they found her.
It was unfortunate that several media stories (mainly the SJ Mercury) took the comment from one family member about the search and made it sound like the entire family was unhappy about the search efforts - that exaggeration resulted in a number of unfounded negative comments directed at the family - they did not need those rather hurtful comments to be piled on their loss.
As for signs - not sure they would help. There are many dangers out there and signs can not be made for all of the dangers. In this specific case there was probably a greater danger of falling off the cliff and we can not put warning signs along all of the cliffs in the State. I read about a guy who got a tic (causing infection) at a local foothills park and was demanding that tic warning signs in all of the parks. Common sense about dangers must prevail.

4 people like this
Posted by Blame Game
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:15 am

I think it sad that the parents of this young woman are laying blame on the Coast Guard.

What could the Coast Guard have done once the girl was swept away into the ocean? They did all they could, as long as they could, to find her--until the situation became hopeless.

My condolences to the family, but finger-pointing will not bring their daughter back.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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