Rescue Of The Year Nomination

Honored to have been nominated for Lifeguard Rescue of the Year 2012.

Out of the hundreds of San Diego lifeguards who make thousands of water rescues each year, it’s considered a tremendous accomplishment and I’m very proud to have the recognition.

Ended up getting runner-up to a heroic rescued made by Katie Kilner at the award ceremony. Katie’s rescue happened at La Jolla Cove during a big day last spring. She suffered a broken hip while saving the lives of two grown men in-between a notoriously dangerous stretch of rocks called Razor Reef. Even with a broken hip, she was able to overcome the pain and execute the saves. It was a miraculous rescue that she obviously made with incredible determination.

Katie deserves the win 100% and I’m really psyched for her. Hope she has a speedy recovery and is able to make more rescues soon. Had the chance to make some heavy rescues with Katie during big swells at WindanSea last year, which is were I first gained a ton of respect for her lifeguard skills.

The rescue I was nominated for happened at Big Rock last September, during the largest south swell La Jolla has seen in over a decade. I was surfing Big Rock, when local legend Eric “Bird” Huffman (owner of Birds Surf Shed, South Coast Surf Shop, and does the surf report on FM 94.9 radio), fell on a bomb.

Bruce Jameson shot this photo of me at Big Rock right before the rescue.

I paddled over to make sure he was OK, and noticed he had a giant gash in his foot. It was bleeding profusely. Attempted to get him to shore as fast as possible, but the dredging surf was consistently slamming into 15 foot rocks all along the coast. I ditched my board and somehow managed to wrangle him down the coast through the rocks, in the impact zone, without any fins or buoy. Bird was drowning from excessive hold-downs, exhaustion, and lack of blood, so I was pretty worried about the situation.

After shooting the rocks, almost to the beach. Stoked I was able to save his surfboard too.

Somehow managed to shoot a keyhole through the rocks in the shorebreak, where my backup guard, Adam Montgomery, helped me drag Bird out of the water and carry him up the pump house stairs. We radioed for an ambulance, and Bird was rushed to the hospital where he later made a full recovery.

Radioing for medics while Adam takes vital signs.

Absolutely love the gratification that comes from making rescues and helping people, and really fortunate to be able to do it for a living while working for various lifeguarding agencies including the San Diego Fire And Life Safety Department. Feels good to get the nomination.

Photos by: Will Sooter, Aaron Goulding, Bruce Jameson.

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6 Responses to Rescue Of The Year Nomination

  1. wiley says:

    heavy one monster! rad to hear about u lookin out for the boys on or off duty, epicly legendary!

  2. Randy says:

    First, your epic rides bring back memories of JGs watching you shred. Now you’re guarding and making harrowing rescues. Brought back memories, too, of the lifeguarding years. Keep on keepin’ on, John.

  3. Jordan says:

    just an incredible story my friend… I remember the day and the swell but I didn’t realize you were so wrapped up in these events… more than a few people owe you more than a lot.

  4. korch says:

    Great rescue, thanks for writing about this rescue and the others you’ve wrote aboute in the past,keep the memories alive. As the years go on they seem to blend together and get forgotten. Be safe and for Christ’s sake protect your groinn man. Also I really liked the snorkeling shots.. alot, what I mean is i’ll have to try that with my wife !!!

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