Mystery surrounds how OBcean – still unconscious – was injured on July 4th – community is asked for help

by on July 8, 2009 · 56 comments

in Health, Ocean Beach

Chris Bowd

Chris Bowd

OCEAN BEACH, CA. It wasn’t all fun and fireworks in Ocean Beach on July 4th. Christopher Bowd was somehow and somewhere knocked unconscious possibly on Newport Avenue after the marshmallow fight and taken to a hospital – where he remains today still unconscious.

Bowd’s family and friends are seeking answers and are turning to the rest of OB for help.

Police are currently conducting an investigation and believe Chris was injured at Newport and Bacon around 11pm July 4th.

Chris Bowd, forty years old, has lived in OB for 4 to 5 years. He and his girlfriend Colleen were down at the beach during Saturday’s festivities. They watched the fireworks and were around the marshmallow fight.  Chris then told Colleen that he was going home.  She remained at the beach with friends.

Chris Bowd

When she returned to their OB home, he wasn’t there.  He wasn’t found until 7:30 Sunday morning when friends, calling around, discovered that he was at UCSD Medical Center.  And he was unconscious with head and facial injuries – with possibly brain injuries, although no scratches.

Because Bowd is still out cold, no one knows what happened.  Everyone, family, friends – the doctors, the police – are all completely baffled.

The family and his good friends are turning to the rest of Ocean Beach – or any visitors who were present at the beach on July 4th – for immediate help.  If anyone knows anything about what may have happened, please contact this blog, the OB Rag or the police.

Chris is white, 5 feet 10 inches, and weighs 210, has a reddish goatee, and is bald.

Contact the Blog immediately if you do have any info. Call 619-962-4804, or call police at 619-531-2000.

In the meantime, this much we know:

Christopher Bowd is right now in very serious condition with very possibly brain injuries. He has a PhD and is employed at UCSD as a medical researcher.  He and his girlfriend are residents of Ocean Beach.  His mother from LA has arrived in town to see and look after her son, who is, of course, still in intensive care.

This afternoon Police investigators were on Newport Avenue in front of Bravos restaurant at the corner with Bacon, having taped off part of the sidewalk, looking for blood spots or any other evidence.

Bowd’s friends contacted the blog early this afternoon and asked us to go to the community for help.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

OBSteven July 8, 2009 at 1:03 pm

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.


jon July 8, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Newport and Bacon would have been slammed at 11pm on the 4th of July. Someone must know what happened. I’ll circulate the article around my friends and family in the area. I really hope Chris recovers soon. It’s evident he has many people who care for him.


amber forest July 8, 2009 at 1:17 pm

I’ll print this article out and tape it up on the bulletin board at People’s Co-op. Keepin’ the faith that this young man will come out of his coma and be well.


Frank Gormlie July 8, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Amber – awesome – your immediate response is overwhelming. Jon, thanks, let’s keep an eye on this. OB Steven – Bowd’s friends do read this.


Catherine July 8, 2009 at 1:42 pm

I’m very sorry to see this and will certainly ask my neighbors. I live very close by. I have to say I’m not surprised someone was injured during or immediately after the marshmallow fight. It was more than a little out of control. My mother in law was nearly knocked over and my husband was struck in the face by a rock or something like it. It ruined what was otherwise a wonderful fireworks show.


Editor July 8, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Editor: We want to make clear that there is no assumption that Chris Bowd was injured at or during the marshmallow fight, and is likely to have been injured on Newport – a much more dangerous place.


Seana July 8, 2009 at 2:16 pm

What is the timeline? Do we know when he was last with his girlfriend, and when he was taken to the hospital?


Frank Gormlie July 8, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Chris was with his girlfriend until the end of the marshmallow fight – whenever that was (?) – ; the police now say that they think he was injured at 11pm.


Rick Piranha July 8, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Chris was with his girlfriend at Cheswick’s until around 10:45 – 11:00pm. The incident occurred at 11pm and he was admitted to the hospital by 11:45pm. He was at the marshmallow fight earlier and got into an intense argument with a few people. He tried to help someone who was being victimized at the marshmallow fight and ended up being victimized himself. This is information we received from his girlfriend whom was the last person that knew him personally and saw him.


lane tobias July 8, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Any signs or flyers we can put up? I would be glad to hang a few in my neck of the woods.


Frank Gormlie July 8, 2009 at 3:46 pm

The family and friends are overwhelmed at this point, and don’t have anything like that. Some readers have printed out the blog post and used that…


Dave Gilbert July 8, 2009 at 7:13 pm

People need to start finding peaceful ways to settle their differences. Perhaps the marsh mellow fight isn’t something that is simply clean, innocent fun anymore, I really couldn’t say for sure since I wasn’t there, but my prayers are with Chris and his family.


jim g July 8, 2009 at 9:38 pm

The info has been passed along to several tv stations and a couple newspapers , hopefully the holes can be filled in as to what happened Sat. nite.

Bad things happen when people drink to much. Hopefully he will come out of it.


Abby July 9, 2009 at 6:17 am

How sad that some people have to ruin good clean fun for everyone else. I thought the marshmallow fight was utterly charming and uniquely OB. Sounds like the drinking ban isn’t working to me.

My thoughts and prayers go out to this poor man and his family. I hope someone comes forward with the truth soon, this is a small town and we need to look out for each other.

Is there anything we can do to help? Does Chris have medical coverage?


Frank Gormlie July 9, 2009 at 9:07 am

At 8:45 am Thursday I spoke to the family’s contact who told me there is no change in Chris Bowd’s condition. He will be taken today for a CT scan. I will post any news or developments in his situation or in the police case when we hear about it. Again, let me repeat: there is no connection between Chris’ injuries and the marshmallow fight. No connection.


Frank Gormlie July 9, 2009 at 4:01 pm

As of about 2pm today, Chris Bowd’s condition is stable. I’m told by his his support group, that his family and friends really appreciate all the support that OB and this blog are giving Chris. They feel no other media is covering his situation. The police are not giving out any information, as they are still involved in the investigation. One key member of Chris’ support group told me that he thinks that the police began the investigation only after the OB Rag did some initial inquiries last Monday.


jettyboy July 9, 2009 at 6:08 pm

This is a horrible and tragic incident to have happen in OB. I’m asking my son and friends who are the age to participate in the marsh-mellow wars. I’ll post-back if anything turns up thru the grapevine. According to his girl friend “he was at the marshmallow fight earlier and got into an intense argument with a few people. He tried to help someone who was being victimized at the marshmallow fight and ended up being victimized himself”, so maybe he ran into some of the same birdbrains on his way home who took matters to the extreme. I think saying there is no connection might be to strong if it turns out his attackers were the same ones that he argued with at the marsh-mellow wars. It’s possible someone who was there could offer some insight, or info. We should be looking at all possibilities. Our community is tight knit and someone out there must know something, keep asking around folks.


Dave Gilbert July 9, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Whether or not there’s a direct connection, I don’t get the point of having marsh mellow “fights” or “wars”. I realize it’s tradition but these are way different times than 30 years ago and there’s a lot of pissed off people out there looking for a reason to fight. It seems to me that as harmless as it may have once been, we now have a huge influx of folks on the 4th that aren’t from O.B. and may not relate to our “mellow” way of life. I even had one lady call me an A** F**K (rhymes with glass truck) that night because I suggested patience to her and her boy friend when I couldn’t get them out of O.B…like that’s MY job, lol!

When you have people throwing things at each other you’re bound to have one, two or more folks feel either attacked or feel like attacking. I know if a dog saw all that going on that he’d get excited and maybe cross his threshold. I realize it’s simply marsh mellows but next thing you know someone’s corking one with a rock or an old D cell, or fashioning some sort of a mellow launcher. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in favor of banning anything but I just don’t think it’s the smartest thing any more. I’m guessing that it must be our version of the “running with the bulls” which is something else that I don’t really see the point in.

If anybody out there knows a good reason to continue having the marsh mellow fights on a public beach, after a long day of partying, I’d love to hear it.

Still praying for the best for Chris Bowd & his family.


J friend of OB July 9, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Chris is progressing some, but it is still a waiting game and a long recovery. What that recovery will involve is unsure based on his frontal lobe injury and many face and skull fractures . The pressure in his brain is stable today and we just pray daily that the swelling does not progress. He did open his eyes when his girlfriend was holding his hand and speaking to him, but was unable to focus. If anyone saw anything please speak out. He left Chezwicks and headed to home at 10:30/10:45 and was picked up on Bacon at 11:05. This was a brutal attack on a man who was just walking home to call it a night. Everyone needs to talk to neighbors in that area, the liquor store on the corner. Somebody must have saw something, please offer help even if anonomously. Prayers to Chris, positive thoughts to his recovery. This is so tragic – such a brilliant mind in his career field.


Pat July 10, 2009 at 7:39 am

I would have to agree with Dave – what started out many years ago as innocent fun has gotten a bit out of control.
Whether or not the incident with Chris is related, I to am not in favor of more bans on the beach.
At very least things should be toned down.
It’s not only the danger involved, but the mess that’s left behind.
The last few years the wars or fights have spilled out on to Abbott St. and left a mess on our sidewalks and streets. The veterans plaza is a mess.
It was steam cleaned a week prior and now looks terrible.
I guess I would be in favor of “Banning the Bozos.”
It saddens me when terrible things happen in our normally peaceful community.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Chris and his loved ones.


Shannon July 10, 2009 at 7:59 am

J, thanks for checking in and letting us know what is going on. It is good to hear he opened his eyes, that’s a step, right?

When Chris comes to please let him know all of us down at the Vine are thinking of him. Colleen, too.


jon July 10, 2009 at 8:22 am

Also let him know that all of Ocean Beach is thinking of him. The word is out. Hopefully someone speaks up soon and whoever is responsible for such a brutal attack is found.


Editor July 10, 2009 at 8:48 am

Looks like we know what the next sidebar question for the community will be – Do you think the Annual Marshmallow Fight should be banned?


Claude Mona July 10, 2009 at 9:28 am

Speaking as an ex-OBtian who used to make a point of retunring to the ‘homeland’ every 4th of July , I stopped coming to OB precisely because of the behavior I saw during the 4th’s post-fireworks activities. What started as good although goopy fun has really become an excuse for near mob violence. What started as marshmallows quickly escalated into flying bottles, cans, beach chairs, coolers and rocks. I said goodbye to OB at the instant I had to dodge a full can of beer traveling at high speed.


lane tobias July 10, 2009 at 9:47 am

I had friends in from out of town who couldn’t believe what was going on, although they did appreciate the free-spirit aspect of the mellow fight being allowed to happen. Nonetheless in their opinion it was quite out of control…I wonder what percentage of the people throwing marshmallows actually live in OB? That would be hard to figure out, but my guess is that each year that number gets lower and lower.

I am so glad to hear he is making progress. I hope that progression speeds up.


John Warner July 10, 2009 at 10:16 am

Jesus, Chris, you better pull through this, I love you brother,

you are one of my best friends and my thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

damn it man



Bowers Family July 10, 2009 at 10:43 am

Chris just came up in conversation yesterday- I had no idea this had happened! Sending love and prayers to Chris and his family!


Frank Gormlie July 10, 2009 at 10:48 am

Here is one amazing thing about this: not one local media has picked up on this story, although I did get a call from Ch 10 Wed eve. Amazing… and sad.


annagrace July 10, 2009 at 11:15 am

and you Frank are amazing and a very good journalist. I hope Chris’s immediate circle of family and friends know how much we all feel connected to him and are ready to help in any way. Good journalism strengthens community.


lane tobias July 10, 2009 at 11:22 am

Ive been telling people outside the community about this, and they were all amazed the story didn’t make the news. I mean, the police, family, friends, and an entire community are trying to find out who did this – and it doesnt even make the evening news?



John Warner July 10, 2009 at 11:40 am

well chris ain’t no michael jackson therefore its not news.

Chris is my good friend, I am devistated to hear about this and I’m very concerned about his recovery, I just talked to him last week about coming out there for halloween.

sending mad love from Philly in hopes of a full recovery.


jon July 10, 2009 at 11:40 am

What gives? The local media were all over the place when the Aussie got thrown into the fire pit a couple years back. They ended up finding the guys responsible too! This is one of our local sons! They should be swarming and trying to find out who is responsible. Sad. Instead they would rather focus on baseball players getting DUI’s and acting like spoiled brats.

As Anna said, we are ready to help in any way we can. And thank you Frank for your tireless efforts.


John Warner July 10, 2009 at 11:51 am

one quick question, anyone know the room number? I want to send something to the room


D.J. Bonin July 10, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Our prayers are with Chris and his family. This is an outrage on our community and how the media has shunned this tragedy is a disgrace. 7 years ago someone in the mele threw a butcher knife randomly into the crowd and hit me in the back of my leg, luckily I had jeans on but scared the hell out of me and my girlfriend at the time. Needless to say since then I have never stuck around for the “Fight”. It was originally harmless fun but over the years has become violent and out of control. I am a friend of Chris and I can`t believe there isn`t any witnesses. I am shocked and outraged. God help Chris.


jim g July 10, 2009 at 12:24 pm

I have told this story to several people a couple questions come up: Did he have ID on him? most likley he did if he was in a bar. Did anyone medical or police knock on his door and see if they could find family after he was admitted?
Who made the call alerting the medics or police? People ALWAYS gather around to watch a distrubance a fight or arrest ….somebodys knows something…….no doubt.


Wireless Mike July 10, 2009 at 12:27 pm

It seems like OBecians have to take care of our own, since the media doesn’t seem too interested. Spread the word about what happened to Chris, ask friends and neighbors, post notices wherever you can (legally), and pray (in whatever way you pray) for Chris to make a full and fast recovery. Chris and his family need our help. He just has to pull through this.

I would hate to see the marshmallow fight get banned. Too many things are being banned already. It lets people act out their pent-up frustrations in a way that is supposed to be harmless. But it needs to stay harmless and not cross the line to violence and injury. The 4th is a time when locals and visitors can all party together and get “intoxicated” and rowdy and let loose, and that’s good. But violence and serious injuries are not part of that party spirit. And it’s still not known for sure if Chris’ injuries were even connected to the marshmallow fight.


For Sunshine man July 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Here is the youtube clib:


robin & Kenny July 10, 2009 at 1:26 pm

We love you Chris and am praying for you every minute!


sean simpson July 10, 2009 at 1:50 pm

I’m still in shock. I hope everyone spreads the info as far and wide as possible, I’m sure this isn’t a matter of “did anyone see anything”, it’s just an issue of “how do we reach those that did?”

While our social networks are good, they only reach those that know chris, and if any of us had seen it we’d have already brought the evidence forward. We need to reach out to those we don’t know.

Is anyone coordinating a flyer effort in OB? I volunteer if it is not already underway. I also encourage everyone with any media clout to call and demand some coverage. Vigilance pays.


Sunshine July 10, 2009 at 2:02 pm

I was at the marshmallow fight on the 4th and took amature video with my PowerShot camera. Perhaps something in the video could shed some light on … anything to help Chris. Never know what a good eye could pick up in the video.

I don’t know how to embed the video here, yet it can be found on YouTube. It’s called, “OB Marshmallow Fight, July 09” If anyone knows how to embed it into these comments, please let me know and I’ll do so. Or feel free to do so yourself.

Chris, whom I do not know personally, is in my thoughts and prayers for a full recovery. May his family find peace during this uncertain time.


jim g July 10, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Diane Bell with the UT is VERY anxious to speak with Frank G or any of Chris’s family………she just sent me a e mail and needs info ASAP ………..


sean simpson July 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm

jim, you forgot to include your email addy in the message.

here it is folks: (deleted by editor: yes, we got in touch with frank down at the beach)


James B July 10, 2009 at 2:27 pm

I have been calling local newsdesks asking when I can expect to see coverage of this story to help find the perpetrators. I was just told that the family requested no coverage when Chan 10 (KGTV) was trying to put together a report. To paraphrase: they would like to run a story, but the police are so far telling them that they cannot confirm there was a crime/assualt vs. that he simply fell down or had an accident. And, since the family has requested no coverage, and will not discuss his condition, they do not have anything to go on for a report.

Can someone close to the family talk to them and confirm this?

The editor with whom I spoke at the newsdesk spent several minutes on the phone with me, sounded genuinely concerned, and insisted he wanted to run a report tomorrow but that he cannot obtain any corroboration of all the hearsay.


Sunshine July 10, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I just checked my videos and found 3 video files of the Marshmallow Fight that night. Taken between 11:21-11:24pm. Would these help?

I also have some still shots taken at 11:20pm.

I’m willing to send them to anyone who could view them and perhaps pick up something revealing about Chris in them.


Scott B July 10, 2009 at 2:48 pm

I just sent a link of this page to SD Crime Stoppers. Maybe they can help get the word out.


jim g July 10, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Diane Bell with the UT just notified me that Sign on San Diego will have a article up VERY SHORTLY…..


Reesa July 10, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Thank you for all of your help in trying to discover what happened to our dear friend Chris. These updates are very helpful, and we appreciate all that you are doing on his behalf. Having visited Chris in OB, I know the community is tight-knit. Somebody must know what happened.

We love you Chris.


lowie July 10, 2009 at 3:06 pm

It doesn’t get much more public of a place than newport and bacon.

Somebody had to have seen something.


Edie July 10, 2009 at 3:15 pm

I live in RI, but a friend of mine posted this because he knows Chris. I hope all the best for Chris, his family and his friends. I noticed on Mapquest that there is a bank just down the street–do they have an outside camera? Maybe they caught something. I am just guessing, but I would think some business along the way would have an outside camera. I am hoping that above all, Chris has a chance to heal and come out of the coma.


khristab July 10, 2009 at 7:28 pm

ChrisBowd, all our collective energy goes out to you and your loved ones in this time. as always. Pull through like the champ you are, friend. Much love from all of CapeMay. see you dancing again soon.


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