Jacksonville lifeguards try to save Sandy hero after surfing accident

Published On: Dec 27 2012 09:14:24 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 27 2012 08:00:00 PM EST

VIDEO: People magazine named Dylan Smith 2012's hero of the year after he helped save half a dozen people from super storm Sandy's storm surge. Two Jacksonville lifeguards tried to save smith after a surfing accident, but they were too late the help the hero. Channel 4's Emily turner talked to the men.


A young surfer who helped rescue Superstorm Sandy survivors from flood waters in New York, has died in a surfing accident in Puerto Rico.

Lifeguards from the American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps at Jacksonville Beach were among some of the first responders on scene last week, when Dylan Smith was found in the waters of Maria's Beach, a popular Puerto Rican surfing location.

Jacksonville lifeguards Tim Kline and Ryan Karish were among a group of Life Saving Corps guards that had traveled to Puerto Rico for a vacation.  A group of people, including Kline and Karish, were out surfing in the area where Smith was found floating in the water.

No one saw it happen. Karish and Klein (pictured, right) said the waves were huge.

"We were sitting there watching a couple of our buddies in the lineup, but it was a little too big for both of us to feel comfortable getting in," explained Kline. "We looked down and we saw a photographer yelling for help and we both took off."

The guys teamed up with a doctor and a nurse who were also on the beach and together, did what they could to keep him alive.

"Someone who is trained for that situation, you just try to put the person's personality to the side and do what you can.  That’s what we did," said Karish.

The sad irony is Smith died on the very surfboard he used to save other people.  The 23-year-old rescued dozens of people in New York in October during Hurricane Sandy. He used his board and a makeshift rope ladder to shepherd people out of reach of the Sandy’s storm surge and fires.

Karish said they weren’t trying to be heroes. They just wanted to save one.

"I can just imagine him seeing these people across the way and wanting to do everything he can for them and anyone who's trained should want to help people.  I know he had that," said Karish.

"Anyone who is going to go out there during Sandy, especially to save random people, he had to have a cool head on his shoulders and that sucks," said Kline.


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