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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.

2018 USLA Heroic Act Award Recipients:

  • Rob Pelkey, Captain, LA County Rescue Boat (Baywatch), Catalina Island, CA
  • Lance Dempsey, Captain, LA County Rescue Boat (Baywatch), Catalina Island, CA
  • Daniel Black, Captain, Catalina Island Conservancy Ranger, Catalina Island, CA
  • On June 25, 2016, Los Angeles County Rescue Boat Captains Lance Dempsey and Rob Pelkey along with Catalina Conservancy Ranger Daniel Black were dispatched to the seaward side of Catalina Island at Salt Verde Point. A 26 foot boat went over a reef in shallow water just as a large wave hit them broadside. A second wave turned them over and 7 victims were thrown in the water. While Captains Dempsey and Pelkey in thier Baywatch Avalon and Baywatch Isthmus vessels searched the debris field and found 2 victims, a good samaritan boat rescued 2 others. Captain Pelkey and lifeguard Brian Kari transferred the 2 victims from the good samaritan boat and raced all 4 victims back to Avalon for helicopter evacuation to hospitals. A 5th victim was spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter and picked up in a pounding surf by Captain Dempsey and lifeguard Matt Rhodes. Meanwhile, Ranger Black had hiked one mile down a path to an area adjacent the scene of the accident. He found one victim on-shore suffering from wounds acquired from the accident. After providing basic first aid, he observed another victim in the debris field and initially started to make a swimming response, but the good samaritan boat recovered that victim. Black later observed another victim through a hole in the bow of the damaged vessel. He entered the pounding surf, reached inside the vessel, successfully recovered him and brought him safely to shore for treatment. This victim was in critical condition. 4 of the victims survived, but 3 died. For his extraordinary effort to save 3 victims (all survived), and especially for his observation of a hand sticking out of a hole in the crushed bow and subsequent rescue, Ranger Daniel Black was awarded the USLA Heroic Act. For their professional handling of the Rescue Vehicles in extremely rough seas, Captains Dempsey and Pelkey were awarded the USLA Heroic Act.
  • Jonathan Hoover, Harbor Patrol Police Officer, Oceanside, CA
  • Canaan Knaap, Lifeguard, Camp Pendleton, CA
  • On October 7, 2017, Oceanside Lifeguards, Fire department personnel and Harbor police were alerted that a boat had hit the north jetty, capsized and tossed the operator into the water. The high surf and pounding waves had then slammed the man into the rocks in a six-foot crevasse. He was injured and clinging for his life. The conditions prevented a rescue boat extraction, so the lifeguards jumped into the churning water and hazardous waves to swim to him. Awaiting their rescue, Officer Hoover, piloting a Harbor Patrol boat, and Lifeguard Knaap, piloting a Lifeguard Rescue boat, battled the extreme overflow of crashing waves inside the jetty but managed to stay adjacent to the jetty to receive the injured victim. After a half hour, the victim was pulled from the rocks, lowered into a smaller craft, then transferred to the Lifeguard Rescue boat. After firefighters worked on his injuries, he was taken to a hospital where the man was treated and eventually released. For keeping a transport boat "at the ready" under extremely hazardous conditions, Lifeguard Canaan Knapp and Police Officer Jonathan Hoover were awarded USLA Heroic Act Award.
  • Eric Einertson, Civilian
  • On April 29, 2017, Eric Einertson, a non-lifeguard was surfing at an area known as "Churches" off of San Onofre State Beach, when he heard screams for help due to what was determined to be a shark attack. He and another surfer paddled over to the site of the attack and found a female (Leeanne Ericson) being supported by a surfer (later determined to be her boyfriend) in the blood stained water. He immediately assisted in bringing the victim to shore on top of a surfboard holding onto her until they were brought to an adjacent rock reef where bystanders utilized a surf leash as a tourniquet. Eric and the others then brought her to the shoreline. Eric continued to hold her hand and reassure the victim until she was released to paramedics for transport by helicopter to the hospital, where she survived the attack. Leeanne's injuries have warranted many operations and a long recovery period. For his Heroic actions under extreme circumstances, Eric Einertson was awarded the USLA Heroic Act Award.

               Heroic Acts Application form

               Heroic Acts Policy/Procedure, including criteria required.


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

      Amy Di Chiro     2008
      Barrera, Richard     2001
      Becktold, Mike     2015
      Black, Daniel     2018
      Brave, Dick     1999
      Brown, Brian     2010
      Butterfield, Royce     2013
      Castillo, Phil     2012
      Cherry, Scot     1997
      Dalton, Charity     1994
      Dalton, John     1998
      Davis, Alex     2011
      Dempsey, Lance     2018
      Einertson, Eric     2018
      Foster, Logan     2012
      Granger, Cameron & Lucy     2016
      Hodson, Tad     1997
      Hoffman, Ryan     2010
      Hoover, Jonathan     2018
      Huckabey, Scott     2017
      Kitmetto, Kiyo     1993
      Knapp, Canaan     2018
      Kruger, Blair     1997
      Linnen, Chuck     1994
      Lothian, Mackenzie     2005
      McFadden, David     1994
      O'Hara, John     1998
      Pelkey, Rob     2018
      Pena, Joseph     1990
      Pletch, Theresa     1990
      Price, Gifford     2015
      Reeves, Conner     2014
      Richards, Kevin     1990
      Rogers, Robert     1993
      Schwary, Brian     1994
      Shenbaum, Dave     2013
      Siegel, Ben     2016
      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