Editor's note: Kenneth Martin Austin, father to the man found Sunday off the coast of Dana's Point's Monarch Beach, after going missing Labor Day, called Patch from his home in Switzerland to share his son's story.
Frank Daniel Austin was a great swimmer, a happily married man, and someone who had a successful window-washing business, says his father.
In an exclusive interview with Laguna Niguel Patch, Austin’s father, Kenneth Martin Austin, talked about his l
He went swimming with an underwater camera, authorities reported. Lifeguards searched for him for several days, but there was no sign of him, and the search and rescue operation was eventually called off.
On Saturday evening, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department found a body floating off the coast of Dana Point’s Monarch Beach and confirmed it to be Austin.
The body was transported to the coroner’s office, and the department is now in the process of conducting a death investigation, the sheriff’s department announced. An autopsy was pending Sunday on the body of the Rowland Heights man.
A spokesman for the Orange County coroner's office said the body was positively identified through fingerprint comparison.
A Father Remembers
“He was someone who was highly praised by anyone you talked to,” said Kenneth Martin Austin, who has lived in a small town outside of Zurich, Switzerland, since 1990. “Out of the four kids I had with his mother, Frank was a model child.”
The former bus driver says that he received a call from his ex-wife on Thursday that his son had possibly drowned in Dana Point.
“I’ve not heard from his mother for 20 years,” he said. “I was saddened to hear the news. I plan to come to California for the memorial with my daughter, possibly this week.”
Austin, who is remarried to a school teacher, said Frank is the youngest of the four children; there are twin boys who live in Hawaii, and another son, who lives in Texas.
“The last time I spoke to Frank was Friday, the day before it happened,” he said. “We talked about his new underwater video camera and how excited he was to test it out.”
Frank never got a chance to test the camera as his mother reported him missing around 7:30 p.m. Sunday evening.
“He had no business going out there if the water as rough,” he said, “He’s always loved the ocean, he's a strong surfer, and swimmer. I think he was a better swimmer than Michael Phelps. I suspect he was in Dana Point to enjoy the beach during the holiday weekend.”
The elder Austin, 65, said that the last time he saw his son was when he was about 6 years old in court.
“My ex gave me custody of the children," he said, “I had them for a few years until she got remarried and could pay child support.”
After several years. Kenneth Austin reunited with his children in 1990. He has kept in touch with Frank and his other sons ever since.
He said Frank returned to California about nine years ago when his son relocated with his Japanese bride, whom he met in Hawaii.
“We would talk about once a week, and he said and his wife were trying to have children,” he said.
Austin also added that his son had a booming window-washing business that he started in Rowland Heights.
“He had his driver’s license taken away years ago because he used to get seizures due to being thrown through a windshield when he was young. He was with his mother, and not wearing a seatbelt, and ever since that accident, he has had seizures, and couldn’t drive a car."
He said he began a window-washing business on his bike and built it up to what it is today, a thriving business.
"Really he started this business on a three-wheel bike," he said. “His mother became his chauffer and had to take him from job to job."
Austin says he will miss his son and that they were “the best of friends.”
“I always encouraged my kids to be the best they could be and that they could do anything they wanted," he said. “I’ll always be his dad.”
He said he and his eldest daughter were planning on coming to Santa Monica next summer via a family home exchange program.
“We were going to spend all three weeks with Frank and his wife,” he said. “It was something that we were all looking forward to."