Moments before Marlin Coats raced into the 52-degree waves at Ocean Beach to try and save two drowning children, he had endured good-hearted jibes about his timidity in entering the chilly waters.
The 29-year-old died after getting caught in a strong current after he jumped into the water near Stairwell 28, by Lincoln Way, to help two drowning brothers, 11 and 14 years old, and another man around 6:25 p.m. Sunday.
“Marlin started running — just running. When he got to the water he started swimming,” said his widow, Jacqueline Coats. “After he got to them, the waves got a little stronger. The waves pushed him farther into the ocean.”
The newlywed couple, who were married at City Hall on April 17 and planning to start a family, were at Ocean Beach with some of Marlin’s seven siblings celebrating Mother’s Day.
Coats was unresponsive when he was pulled from the water by Ocean Beach patrol lifeguards, and efforts to revive the him failed.
“I was just praying to God — just let him be here with us, just don’t take him away. He’s a good man, just don’t take him away. I’ve never prayed harder,” Jacqueline Coats said, of her thoughts as lifeguard performed CPR.
Marlin Coats later died at local hospital. The two boys and a man were rescued and after being treated for hypothermia were released Sunday night, Talmadge said.
“His greatest passion was his family,” said Robert Coats, Marlin Coats’ father. Marlin Coats was close with his siblings, especially his twin brother Markell in Georgia.
Marlin Coats grew up in San Francisco, attending Carver Middle School before graduating from Downtown High School. He went on to study computer science at Fresno State University and graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in business administration.
“He was my hero,” said Catherine Salvin, who taught Marlin Coats during his junior and senior years at high school. “This was a kid who never got caught up in any of the drama in the city. He was living his life exactly as he should.”
Jacqueline Coats said she and the Coats family want to establish contact with the family of the boys Marlin Coats was trying to rescue. She requested they contact her at (510) 632-7466.