A sudden downdraft from a thunderstorm laden with extra moisture from Tropical Storm Lidia — which left at least seven dead late last month in Baja California Sur — blasted the Santa Barbara Waterfront for about 10 minutes on Sunday afternoon with heavy rain and winds gusting to 80 mph. On the beach near Sea Landing, Alyssa Nuño, a 16-year-old junior at Dos Pueblos High School, was hit by an outrigger canoe, which broke her wrist and shoulder, and fractured her skull, according to her cousin Karina Arroyo. “I was the first responder on that,” said Beach Operations Supervisor Rob Graham. “She had a very bad head injury. One of the worst I’ve ever seen. I knew we needed to get her back-boarded and [to the hospital] as soon as possible.” According to Arroyo, an ambulance transported Nuño to Cottage Health hospital, and she was airlifted to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where doctors are monitoring brain swelling ahead of surgery.
Graham described the freak storm and its immediate aftermath as “pandemonium.” As his team rescued a boatload of kids capsized in the harbor, Graham tended to Nuño “with a few gentlemen who volunteered to help me get her stabilized,” he said. “She was conscious … and very brave, and her family was there.” Nuno’s mom did “a great job” of applying direct pressure to her daughter’s head wound before Graham arrived, he added. The family has set up a gofundme account to help with medical bills.