Hundreds of harbor patrol officers, police and fire officials from throughout California led a procession to Ventura’s Ivy Lawn Memorial Park Saturday, March 21, following the funeral service at the Ventura Missionary Church for Officer Paul D. Korber.
Korber died a hero’s death when he drowned Sunday, March 15, while rescuing, Karen Van Deventer, and her 7- and 11-year-old sons off the South Jetty of Ventura Harbor. The victims had been walking in shallow water along the beach when a rip tide reportedly pulled one of the children in. Another son, 14-years-old, was able to rescue himself.
The Harbor Patrol received several reports of swimmers in distress south of the South Jetty. Korber and Operations Manager, Scott Miller, responded by vessel. Three people were clinging to a Boogie Board about 250 feet from shore in 4-to 6-foot swells when they arrived. Although they were able to get close to the people, they couldn’t reach them. Korber stripped off to his uniform shorts and entered the water with a rescue tube. He swam with the victims to the Harbor Patrol boat that was waiting just outside the breaking waves.
They were pushed back toward the jetty by a set of waves. Korber, with the assistance of bystanders, tried to remove the victims from the water onto the South Jetty. Everyone was swept back into the water despite numerous rescue attempts.
Two state lifeguards arrived on the scene and began swimming the victims out of the surf. They were quickly taken aboard the Harbor Patrol boat. Korber, who had disappeared under the water, was rescued by a third state lifeguard. He was towed unconscious to the boat, and CPR was begun immediately. Although CPR continued during Korber’s transportation to a local hospital, he was pronounced dead after the efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
During the funeral service Miller stated, “Paul was one of the best harbor patrol officers I have ever worked with. He was always striving to improve himself in all aspects of the job. He especially enjoyed his role as a coordinator and instructor for the Rescue Boat Handling Class that the harbor patrol hosts annually for officers throughout the state.”
A family friend, Mark Ellison, particularly touched the group of mourners with a poem filled with fond remembrances. He had written the poem “Heroes in Heaven” for Korber. In part the poem said “There’s heroes in heaven, that’s easy to see. Paul Korber is one, for great deeds did he.”
Barrett, Korber’s 9-year-old son, was told by Harbor Patrol Officer David Glaser, one of Korber’s closest friends, that he had a bunch of “big brothers and sisters” in the harbor patrol that he could depend upon. He received numerous gifts including four caps; one from the Seattle Mariners signed by player Ken Griffey Jr. and another from the Dodgers signed by player Mike Piazza.
The hats were presented to Barrett, along with a hat rack, by Rev. Bob Herrington who told him that he could always hang his hat on God.
More than 40 water-oriented agencies, fire departments, police agencies, from across the state attended the funeral services. Miller said, “Paul had a heck of a lot of friends. He exemplified everything that was good in a human.”
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter unit honored the fallen hero with a “fly-over.” Korber had served in Vietnam as a helicopter gunner.
Korber, 45, was buried alongside his wife, Cindy, who died of breast cancer in 1995. She had also been a Ventura Harbor Patrol Officer.
Korber is survived by his 9-year-old son, Barrett; father and stepmother, Frank and Carol Korber of Cardiff; sister, Jeri Hough of Rochester, Minn.; three brothers, Jeffrey Korber of Chico, Eric Christeson of Ventura and Russell Brown of Lompoc.
The Ventura Port District, in conjunction with the Bank of Ventura, has established the “Paul Korber Memorial Fund” to benefit Korber’s son Barrett. Donations may be made to the fund in care of the Bank of Ventura, 5808 E. Telephone Road, Ventura, CA 93003.