The California Surf Life Saving Assn. honored 13 Ocean Lifeguards and three non-lifeguards for demonstrating exemplary and extraordinary courage in the aquatic environment. These acts of heroism were recognized in a presentation during the CSLSA’s Spring Board of Directors meeting on April 12, at the Dockweiler Youth Center in Playa Del Rey.
In addition to the Medal of Valor award, Heroic Act and Meritorious Act awards were also presented.
“It was our honor to recognize these individuals who demonstrated bravery and a selfless commitment to the safety of beachgoers in California,” said Bill Humphreys, president of the CSLSA. “Their heroism is inspirational and worthy of recognition.”
Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguard Specialists Brian Kari and Matt Rhodes were honored with the Medal of Valor; Rescue Boat Captains Lance Dempsey and Rob Pelkey, and Catalina Island Conservancy Ranger Dan Black received Heroic Act Awards for their role in a harrowing rescue on June 25, 2016 involving seven victims and a capsized boat in 8-foot waves on the rocky backside of Catalina Island.
LA County Ocean Lifeguard John Newton was presented with a Meritorious Act Award for his off-duty rescue on March 16, 2017 of an unconscious surfer on whom he performed CPR, and who would fully recover after several days in the hospital.
Oceanside Lifeguards Tyson Cleveland, Victor Dhillon, Nicholas Kelley, Emile Lagendijk, Matt Mattison, Dieter Swank and Camp Pendleton Lifeguard Marko Lagendijk were presented the Medal of Valor. Oceanside Police Officer Jonathan Hoover and Camp Pendleton Lifeguard Canaan Knapp were honored with Heroic Act Awards. The group rescued a jet-skier who crashed into the Oceanside Harbor Del Mar Jetty. Battling crashing waves of up to 14-feet, the lifeguards protected, and rescued the victim from a crevice in the jagged rocks and large waves.
Eric Einertson, a civilian who was surfing at a popular break known as “Churches” off of San Onofre State Beach on April 4, 2017 and rescued shark attack victim Leeanne Ericson received a Meritorious Act Award. Einertson used a surfboard leash as a tourniquet to help control the victim’s bleeding until paramedics could arrive.
Through the Medal of Valor, Heroic Act and Meritorious Act, the CSLSA salutes its recipients for their bravery, courage, and service to humanity. The Medal of Valor is the highest award given by the CSLSA to a lifeguard who voluntarily risked his/her life in an extraordinary effort to save a life.
Recipients of all awards are honored at CSLSA Board of Directors meetings, which are held in April and October. The recipient and his/her family are invited to the meeting to receive a collective thank you and a certificate of heroism.