Kevin Cody

South Bay surfer Donny Miller dies following fall

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Donny Miller on his favorite wave, at the Redondo Breakwall. Photo courtesy of Black Belt Surfing.

Donald “Donny” Miller, one of the South Bay’s top surfers in the early 1980s, died Sunday from injuries sustained when he jumped from the third story balcony of an apartment building in the 200 block of Monterey Boulevard in Hermosa Beach.

The former Hermosa Beach resident was part American Indian and had been living on an Indian reservation in Temecula.

About 6:30 p.m. Friday, Hermosa Beach Police Officers responded to a call about a suspicious person on the balcony of the Monterey apartment building, according to a statement from HBPD Sgt. Robert Higgins. Miller appeared to be suffering from some kind of psychosis, Higgins said. He was talking to people who weren’t there, and thought someone was trying to kill him.

Police are not sure whether Miller was under the influence of narcotics at the time, said Lt. Landon Phillips of the Hermosa Beach Police Department.

Officers from the Manhattan Beach Police Department’s Crisis Negotiation Team and Mary Hoisington, a mental health clinician with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, arrived at the apartment building and spoke with Miller for about two hours before he jumped, Higgins said.

Hoisington, who has gone out on patrol to assist HBPD officers in dealing with the mentally ill once a week for almost a year, was not familiar with Miller from her time in the city, Phillips said. Police are investigating the case as a possible suicide.

Police are not sure why Miller chose the building he did, and said it appeared to be random.

Michael Luhrsen, a childhood friend of Miller’s, said the two of them began surfing the Redondo Beach Breakwall and competing in WSA contests together  in the early ‘80s.

“He was still charging last winter. He was a good man,” Luhrsen said.

Miller is survived by his wife Jeannie and daughter Sarah. A memorial paddle out at the Redondo Beach Breakwall is being planned, but a date has not been set. ER

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