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The highest award presented by USLA to a non-lifeguard is intended to give due recognition to those who have risked their lives to an extraordinary degree in a rescue or attempted rescue of another person (without familial relation to the rescuer). Together, the USLA and CSLSA salute their bravery, courage, and service to humanity.

2012 Heroic Act Award Recipient:

  • Phil Castillo - Civilian (former Lifeguard), Newport Beach
  •        On Saturday, May 5, 2012, at 5:45p.m., Phil Castillo was fishing on the 56th Street jetty in Newport Beach when he noticed three individuals struggling in a rip current near 54th Street. Mr. Castillo, a former Newport Beach Lifeguard, recognized that the individuals were in serious danger. Mr. Castillo yelled to another individual to call 911 and then quickly jumped into the ocean to assist the swimmers. As he jumped in, one individual swam to the jetty and began to climb the rocks. Mr. Castillo swam towards the other two swimmers and, once closer to the victims, realized one individual was attempting to stay afloat by pushing down on the other. This was causing the other swimmer to be forced under water. Mr. Castillo recognized this situation from his former lifeguard training and knew this could quickly become a double drowning situation if he didn’t intervene. As he approached the individuals, the panicked swimmer began climbing on top of Mr. Castillo, freeing the other individual who then swam and climbed onto the rock jetty. Mr. Castillo placed the victim in a cross-chest hold position which allows the victim to breathe easier and stay afloat, while reassuring the victim. Mr. Castillo began to swim the person around the rock jetty. At this time, Lifeguard Captain Josh Van Egmond arrived to assist with a rescue buoy to support Mr. Castillo and the victim. Together, Captain Van Egmond and Mr. Castillo pulled the individual ashore. Once ashore, the individual was having trouble standing. Firefighter Paramedics assessed all three patients. Two individuals had minor injuries from climbing the rock jetty, but all declined further treatment.

    Due to the quick and heroic actions of Mr. Phil Castillo, two lives were saved at the beach on that May day. Without Mr. Castillo’s actions, this may have been a tragic story for these individuals. For his lifesaving acts, the Newport Beach Fire Department, CSLSA and USLA bestow this Heroic Act Award on Mr. Phil Castillo.

    USLA Heroic Act Award Recipients
         Recipients from California
          For a complete U.S. listing, CLICK HERE.

      Amy Di Chiro     2008
      Barrera, Richard     2001
      Brave, Dick     1999
      Brown, Brian     2010
      Castillo, Phil     2012
      Cherry, Scot     1997
      Dalton, Charity     1994
      Dalton, John     1998
      Davis, Alex     2011
      Hodson, Tad     1997
      Hoffman, Ryan     2010
      Kitmetto, Kiyo     1993
      Kruger, Blair     1997
      Linnen, Chuck     1994
      Lothian, Mackenzie     2005
      McFadden, David     1994
      O'Hara, John     1998
      Pena, Joseph     1990
      Pletch, Theresa     1990
      Richards, Kevin     1990
      Rogers, Robert     1993
      Schwary, Brian     1994
      Spheeris, Linda     1993
      Starky, Sean     2010
      Strickland, Brian     1997
      Sullivan, Terrance     1998
      Weck, Roger     1997
      White, Kyle     2001
      Willis, Robert     1997
      Wright, Greg     2009


                 Heroic Acts Application form

                 Heroic Acts Policy/Procedure, including criteria required.