Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Jason Barnett: The surfer who jumped off Pompano Beach Pier during September 2004 Hurricane Frances

Wanting to get some shots of the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea's "Beach Village", once the sun had began to go done, I'd leave the apartment late Monday afternoon to catch the number 11 bus to Anglin Square.

Waiting at the bus stop just across the street from the apartment building, at the corner of South Ocean Boulevard and SE 19th Street, in the process of setting and configuring the camera I'd focus on bicycle traffic.

The first were of three bicyclists who waved as they passed by while the second was of a shirtless man would stopped and said "Hey, I once photographed 'a chair' that had been abducted by aliens".

"Did you say 'a chair' ... inducted by aliens ...?" I inquired. He said, yes. And then explained further that he and others had seen the aliens on more than one occasion. I said that I had not ever seen an alien but, "... anything is possible ...!"

The shirtless bicyclist then asked "what are you taking pictures for?".

Replying that I live in Washington DC and was visiting a friend who lives in Fort Lauderdale I explained with an interest in tourism that I take pictures of everywhere that I go. Mentioning that it was a brand new camera, I said further that I was testing the new camera out. And that it was very different than my other two digitals that were, both, in for repair.

Unlike my other two this one also shoots videos and movies.

He then asked if I had ever heard of the surfer who jumped off the Pompano Beach Pier during the 2004 Hurricane Frances and that police had spent several days looking for. Reminding him that I live in DC I said that I had not heard of the incident. Nor had any particular recollections of Hurricane Frances.

I then asked if I could photograph him for the purpose of posting the images to flickr and my blog pertaining to his "15 minutes of fame".

In the process of this photo-interview, 40-something Jason Barnett said that he moved to Fort Lauderdale from Fairfax VA in 1973. Which brought to mind September 1973 when I began my first semester as a freshman at the University f Maryland. I also then remembered that was the third person that I had met since Sunday who said that they moved to Fort Lauderdale from Fairfax Virginia.

Handing him my card, I thanked him for his time. Saying, 'good luck ...' Jason then would continue bicycling north along A1A.

The bus would arrive a few minutes later. On the bus ride to Anglin Square, which is about a 5 minute trip, we'd pass Jason along the way, peddling north along Ocean Boulevard. I wondered if and, perhaps, hoped that I'd see him at the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea 'Beach Village'.

After spending about an hour taking pictures of the Village, the Beach and the Pier at Anglin Square I'd catch the number 11 bus back. And, to my surprise, it was the same bus driver from an hour before.

Once back at the apartment when I asked Richard if he remembered news about a surfer jumping off Pompano Beach Pier during the 2004 Hurricane Frances he said "... no".

And when told him about Jason who I had photographed at the bus stop across the street, Richard said "and you didn't think to walk away when his first words were that he had photographed a chair that had been abducted by aliens ...?".

I said "Not reallly. Anything's possible".

In searching the internet for Surfer Jason Pompano Beach Pier 2004 Hurricane Frances I came across an article that confirms the shirtless bicyclist's 'claim to fame'.

In a 5 September 2004 Washington Times article entitled "A weakened Frances roars ashore in Florida" I found the following:

In Pompano Beach, close to the spot where the eye of Frances was expected to make landfall, a lone surfer, who would identify himself only as Jason, jumped off a pier into the huge waves. Hours later, police were still searching for him.

See, also, Surfline AFTER THE FALL which reads:

And the fun didn't stop there. One surfer in Juno Beach is still living large on his 15 minutes of fame. "Jason the surfer" was all over the local 6pm Eyewitness Newscasts up and down the state. In the eye of the hurricane, Jason eluded law enforcement and made it out to the end of the Pompano pier. While local news cameras focused, Jason waited for a lull and launched himself into 8 - 12'+ barrels, zoomed around for the right wave, snagged a large one and rode to fame and television glory while the police waited and then chased him down the beach as he drifted north within the eye wall. Surfers all over the state cheered the sheer bravado.

Or CNN.com's 4 September 2004 Transcripts which reads:

JILL MARTIN, WFOR REPORTER: Hi, Rob and Maggie. No news on the surfer, although everybody is coming out here asking about Jason the surfer.

Like I said. "Anything's possible!".

Should I come across Jason again, perhaps, he will permit me to conduct a second photo-interview of him for inclusion in my NAKED TRUTH Project.

Click above photo taken by Elvert Barnes to view Surfer Jason Barnett photoset.

1 comment:

  1. I lived in Deerfield Beach FL in 2004. Jason and I worked for the same tree service in September cleaning up the aftermath of the hurricane. His story IS true. I heard him on the local radio during the hurricanne. I've also seen a video of it! (Weather channel footage I think) This is definitely him. And yeah he always talked of aliens too