1985 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees
1985 Medal of Valor Honoree
Ocean Lifeguard Norton Wisdom
The water was a chilly 56 degrees on January 12, 1985 and the wind was blowing in gusts up to 60 mph when Norton Wisdom spotted wind surfer Brad Hudson, a 20-year-old South Pasadena man, in trouble more than a mile off shore. Wisdom alerted the lifeguard at the next beach and began to ready his rescue board for the dangerous trip out to sea. He took a light in case darkness set in before the rescue was completed.
Knowing that it would be near impossible to make it back to shore with a victim in tow, Norton’s life and that of his victim, was now in the hands of his closest backup from Lifeguard Rescue Boat Baywatch del Rey. With it unlikely that the Baywatch would be able to locate Norton and his victim between the huge swells, lifeguards from shore worked their way to a vantage point at the top of a bluff overlooking the rescue to direct the Baywatch to Norton’s position.
In order to keep the wind surfers mind busy so he wouldn’t panic while waiting for the Baywatch, Norton had him disassemble his board, untying knots and securing lines. When the Baywatch finally came into view Norton watched a sheet of water suddenly wash over its bow and the winds violently turn the vessel broadside. The Baywatch was taking quite a pounding and Norton wasn’t sure how it was going to make the last 300 yards to get to them. Finally the crew was able to get close enough to Norton, and Hudson was loaded on board. High ocean swells made the task almost impossible but more than two hours after Hudson was first spotted the wind surfer was safely aboard.
Wisdom looks back on the rescue as a dramatic operation, but insists the backup work by his fellow lifeguards guards was the key to its success.