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1991 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees



1991 Medal of Valor Honorees


Rescue Boat Captain John McKay

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Kevin Marble


On September 18, 1990, Baywatch Isthmus responded to a cliff rescue call about a third of a mile east of Cat Harbor on Catalina Island.


One of two young men who were hiking from Cat Harbor had slipped on the trail, which ended in a sheer cliff and had fallen 100 feet to the rocks lining the ocean shore below.


The second climber was able to descend safely down to his buddy who was being pulled out to sea by a strong current.  He pulled the victim onto the rocks and hiked for help.


As night was falling, Lifeguard Kevin Marble and Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Stover arrived on the scene and climbed down the sheer cliff with rescue gear to help the 18-year old victim who had suffered multiple fractures and massive internal injuries.  The rescue team used lighted helmets and flashlights as it worked to try to illuminate the rescue scene.


Meanwhile, Captain John McKay, aboard the Isthmus Harbor Patrol boat, approached from the sea with a backboard, resuscitator and other medical equipment.  All the equipment had to be swum into the rocks and lifeguards were fighting heavy surge, surf, tide, wind and time.  The patient was intubated, put on a backboard and IV’s were started on the victim.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter arrived to airlift the victim to a hospital, but several attempts failed.  Because of wind and surge, the rescue basket lines became entangled in the smaller harbor patrol boat’s antenna and outboard motor.  The patrolman operating the boat suffered a severe head gash when the wind whipped the rescue basket into him.


The helicopter was able to provide lighting from the air but it’s prop wash was blowing the patient and rescuers into the rocks.  So the Coast Guard crew dropped a 10-man raft near the harbor patrol boat.  Captain McKay swam it into the beach, where it was inflated.  The victim was then put in the raft.


While Marble performed CPR, McKay launched the raft on a tidal surge and swam it back through heavy kelp to the waiting harbor patrol boat.


The victim then was transported back to Cat Harbor where a safe transfer of the victim to the helicopter was effected.  He was then evacuated to UCLA/Harbor Medical Center on the mainland.


Though the victim was somewhat alert at the start of the rescue, his condition had deteriorated and he was pulseless and not breathing prior to lift-off.  Nonetheless, Lifeguard Marble continued to administer treatment.


Doctors at the hospital pronounced him dead on arrival despite the valiant effort of Lifeguards John McKay and Kevin Marble, who put their lives in jeopardy in an all-out effort to same another human being.



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