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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.

2014 Heroic Act Award Recipient:

  • Conner Reeves - Student, former Junior Lifeguard, Cal State, Huntington
  •        On March 2, 2013, Connor Reeves, a 17-year old Edison High School student and former Junior Lifeguard, was surfing Huntington State beach when he ran over an errant surfboard. Searching for the board’s owner, he noticed a man floating face down and not moving. After swimming to the man, Connor flipped him over and stabilized his neck on his surfboard before paddling him to shore. The surfer gained his airway and told Connor that he couldn’t move his arms or legs, as he had hit his head on a sand bar. The rescued surfer spent many weeks in the hospital suffering from a spinal injury. He was paralyzed for the first few weeks, but now is able to walk, sometimes with a cane. Connor’s extraordinary act of lifesaving has earned him CSLSA’s and USLA’s 2014 Heroic Act Award.
  • Patrick and Danny Watson - Civilians, Father/Son, San Bernardino County
  •        On May 25, 2013, the Watson family were visiting Aliso Park beach in Laguna Beach when they saw a strong shorebreak wave knock a 1-year-old baby girl out of her mother’s arms. Patrick and his son Danny immediately jumped in the surf looking for the baby. Patrick finally located the baby as she passed by him underwater. After diving underwater, Patrick caught her and held her above water while big waves were pounding the shore. His wife Wendy describes the scene as "just two arms sticking up with the baby held up above". With Danny’s help, his father made it to shore, where the non-breathing baby coughed up water and started crying after Patrick gave her a few shakes. The baby made a full recovery, but the mother was in such shock that they forgot to exchange information. For Patrick and Danny’s selfless action, which certainly saved a life that day, the CSLSA and USLA bestow the Heroic Act award.
    2013 Heroic Act Award Recipient:

  • Dave Shenbaum - Firefighter and Lifeguard, Manhattan Beach
  •        In November of 2012, Dave Shenbaum, Acting Battalion Chief for the Manhattan Beach Fire Department (and part-time lifeguard), responded to a report of a jumper off the Manhattan Beach pier. Upon arrival, Dave found a fisherman clinging to a rope while trying to hold a non-responding woman's head above water. Realizing that every moment counted, Dave shed his uniform and shoes and swam to the pair, where he found the woman unconscious and foaming at the mouth. He immediately gave the woman mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, then swam her to shore where paramedics were waiting. The woman’s heart was not beating, but when paramedics applied CPR, she revived. She was transported to a hospital where the next morning, miraculously, she was sitting up in bed and talking. Shenbaum is known within the fire department for deflecting credit to others, as he again did in this incident. He singled out the fisherman’s role in saving the woman’s life. "This guy unselfishly jumped into the water to save a woman’s life. When he got to her, she was just struggling to keep her head above water, and he got her back to that rope. As public servants, we get paid pretty well to put our lives on the line to protect and serve our community. But when someone from the public does it — it is such a selfless act of valor.” Shenbaum had previously received the Medal of Valor from the South Bay Chambers of Commerce for a nighttime pier jumb rescue in 2010. For his lifesaving act, the CSLSA and USLA voted to award Dave with their Heroic Act Award.
  • Royce Butterfield - Civilian, Chino
  •        On November 24, 2012, Royce Butterfield, a pier fisherman, and his brother were walking on the Manhattan Beach pier around 10:30pm when they heard screams for help. Royce, describing himself as "not a very good swimmer", jumped into the 60 degree water and swam to a 49-year old woman who was struggling to keep her head above water. Meanwhile, his brother threw down a rope which Royce managed to get back to with the woman in tow. He was barely able to hold onto the rope and the woman when Shenbaum arrived. For this truly brave and selfless act of valor, Royce was honored with the Heroic Act Award.
    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.
  • Logan Foster - Student, Encinitas
  •        On January 28, 2012, Logan Foster and his family were at Pipes Beach (Cardiff) when they noticed a stray surfboard in the water. While his father thought that someone would soon retrieve it, Logan saw a dark mass in the surf that turned out to be an unconscious surfer floating on his back. The 14 year old student at San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas immediately swam to the man and saw that his face and hands were already blue. Logan tried to keep the man's head above water as he pulled him towards shore, where his father and friend rushed out to help. Soon, paramedics arrived and took the man to the hospital, where he was later in stable condition. Logan has been surfing since he was 8 years old and is a member of the school's surfing team. For his lifesaving act, the CSLSA and USLA honors Logan with their Heroic Act Award.

    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
      Butterfield, Royce     2013
      Castillo, Phil     2012
      Cherry, Scot     1997
      Dalton, Charity     1994
      Dalton, John     1998
      Davis, Alex     2011
      Foster, Logan     2012
      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
      Reeves, Conner     2014
      Richards, Kevin     1990
      Rogers, Robert     1993
      Schwary, Brian     1994
      Shenbaum, Dave     2013
      Spheeris, Linda     1993
      Starky, Sean     2010
      Strickland, Brian     1997
      Sullivan, Terrance     1998
      Watson, Patrick and Danny     2014
      Weck, Roger     1997
      White, Kyle     2001
      Willis, Robert     1997
      Wright, Greg     2009

                 Heroic Acts Application form

                 Heroic Acts Policy/Procedure, including criteria required.