1992 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees
1992 Medal of Valor Honorees
Ocean Lifeguard Eddy Love
Ocean Lifeguard Allen McClafferty
As heavy winter rains flooded the Los Angeles County area, the Sepulveda Dam Basin in the San Fernando Valley flooded and became a major disaster area.
Rainwater inundated the Dam basin, stranding cars and their drivers and passengers and generally wreaking havoc. Eddy Love, a 16-year veteran with the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, and other County Lifeguards were assigned to rescue efforts at Sepulveda Dam.
Ocean Lifeguard Allen McClafferty was off duty but responded to provide assistance. Two persons are alive today because Love and McClafferty were there.
A Television cameraman who was taping the disaster had spotted a victim clinging to debris and jumped into the floodwaters to assist. In doing so, he was able to keep the victim afloat but placed his own life in danger.
The TV helicopter pilot reported the incident. Love and McClafferty were taken by the news helicopter to make a rescue effort and, with minimum rescue equipment, jumped from the helicopter into the murky and debris-filled floodwaters, which were rushing close to the Sepulveda spillway.
Once in the water, the lifeguards had to think and move quickly. The area now was dark and the helicopter had left to guide other lifeguards in inflatable rescue boats to the scene.
Knowing it would take valuable time for the inflatable’s to arrive; Love and McClafferty guided the cameraman and the victim to a “clump” of bushes. It turned out to be a treetop.
The tree halted their movement toward the spillway and, shortly afterward, two inflatable rescue boats and lifeguard crews arrived and hauled all four men aboard.
The first victim was flown to a hospital where he was treated and recovered; the cameraman was treated at the scene and released.
The day ended without a single loss of life.
1992 Lifetime Achievment Honoree
Rescue Boat Captain William Stidham
William began his lifeguard career in 1934 as a seasonal lifeguard for the City of Hermosa Beach. In 1935 he began working for Los Angeles County when they took over operation of the beach. He became a full time lifeguard in 1940. He left this position from 1942-1945 to join the service during World War II. After the war he returned to his lifeguard career and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1946. William was appointed the first Baywatch Skipper in 1952. He is credited with taking the concept of high-speed rescue boats from an idea to a reality. He established many of the standards in use today by today’s Baywatch Rescue Boats. The Baywatch vessels that are now mainstays in ocean rescues from the beach and in the open sea are the direct result of his vision and hard work.
Stidham was skipper of the Baywatch Redondo in 1969 when it was the key vessel in emergency operations centering on two jetliners that crashed on takeoff from Los Angeles International Airport only days apart. It was one of the finest hours for the Baywatch Fleet, and for Stidham. Stidham, onboard Baywatch Redondo was one of the first emergency vessels to arrive at the crash site for both major airline crashes. On one of the crashes, he directed the emergency response where they successfully rescued 37 passengers from the plane.
William Stidham is the first recipient of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard “Lifetime Achievement” award. It is presented to the Los Angeles County Lifeguard whose career best represents the high standards and professionalism of this lifeguard service.
Stidham retired from lifeguarding in 1970. After his retirement however, Stidham continued to be involved with emergency response by participating with County-area safety specialists in the improvement of the LAX emergency disaster operations plan.