1982 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees
1982 Medal of Valor Honoree
Paramedic Rescue Boat Lieutenant John Stonier
John Stonier was working on Catalina Island onboard Baywatch Isthmus with his partner Roger Smith when they received an emergency request for assistance for a vessel in distress midway between Catalina and the mainland. When the two paramedic lifeguards arrived on scene, they discovered a 37-foot cabin cruiser had lost engine power. It was a cold and windy November day and heavy seas were thrashing the boat. Fuel was pumping uncontrolled into the bilge of the boat and it was in danger of blowing up at any minute.
By the time the Baywatch reached the stranded vessel, giant waves were crashing over its bow. A brutal winter storm was beating both vessels so bad that the Baywatch could not pull alongside.
Determining that all four victims, a middle-age couple, their daughter and grandson, were suffering from hypothermia, time was of the essence. Stonier dived into the frigid water and swam to their boat while Smith manned the Baywatch. Stonier made four separate crossings between the crippled cruiser and the Baywatch to rescue the four victims. He then swam back a fifth time to secure a tow line to the cruiser.
The victims were brought back to Catalina Island and subsequently flown to a mainland hospital for treatment. All four victims were released from the hospital the next day and made a full recovery from their injuries.
John Stonier was awarded the 1982 Medal of Valor.