2015 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees
2015 Medal of Valor Honorees
Ocean Lifeguard Ed Butts
July 6th, 2014, Ocean Lifeguard Ed Butts was stationed at The Ruins (east end of Abalone Cove Beach) with a lifeguard vehicle. On a day of multiple rescues due to high surges of surf with inexperienced "gorge jumpers", Ed received a call from Southern Section Headquarters that they received a 911 distress call about people in trouble in the gorges. Ed had been making rescues all morning in Gorges #1 and #2. He climbed to Gorge #1 first- saw that it was clear; then swam through the cave at Gorge #2 to rule out any victims inside the cave. When none were found, he returned the way he came, swimming back through Gorges #2 and #1 battling the large South East swell that had created extremely hazardous conditions throughout the Palos Verdes Peninsula. When he got back to the Ruins (Gorge #1), he then ordered all the beach patrons in the area to remain up high on the rocks because of the danger from the high surf.
Ed then requested backup and responded in the lifeguard vehicle to Sacred’s Cove, an unguarded area adjacent to Portuguese Point to check out Gorge #3. With a helmet, a radio, a single swim fin and a rescue tube in hand, OL Butts ran down the Sacred trail to Inspiration Point. As Ed was making his way to the scene, he observed the first victim jump off the rocks into Gorge #3 just as a large wave hit the area. The surge washed the victim into the rocks, injuring his back. The injured swimmer then screamed out for help. At this point the second victim jumped into the water in a failed attempt to assist his injured friend. When Ed arrived shortly thereafter, he immediately dove into the water in between waves and pulled the first victim to safety. He then carried the victim, who had multiple lacerations and a back injury, up on the rocks at the base of the cliff, out of the reach of the pounding surf. He turned the victim over to a couple civilian bystanders to watch over him.
Ed then turned his attention to the second victim. He timed his entry to coincide with an incoming wave and once again dove into the water. He made his way across Gorge #3 through a 6’-10’ surge, which made for a very precarious swim. Butts made his way up the jagged east end of the gorge and reached the second victim who was getting slammed in the cave by the surf. Butts took him to the east side of Gorge #3 and immobilized him for a possible cervical spine injury. At this point fire personnel from Fire Station 53 had made their way down the cliff to assist with the first victim. They told Ed, who stayed with the second victim, that a helicopter was enroute to extract both victims. Ed assisted with the second victim when the paramedic arrived via helicopter.
LACoFD Copter 19 airlifted the patients one at a time and dropped them off at a Landing Zone at the top of the cliff. OL Butts then swam back across Gorge #3 and up the west side having sustained only minor abrasions throughout the entire ordeal.
Lifeguard Paramedic Steve Sturdivant
On January 30th 2014 Deckhand Steve Sturdivant acted heroically during one of the worst weather events to hit the city of Avalon in 50 years. Steve managed to save the victim of a vessel dashed into the rocks and destroyed. He saved Baywatch Avalon from damage and possible grounding. He repeatedly entered the water on that night with a severe chill factor into frigid winter waters even though he was shivering and suffering from initial stages of hypothermia.
During the day of January 30th before the storm Steve responded to a possible stoke patient at an Avalon Hotel and the medevac of a crewmember from Carnival Inspiration with Kidney stones.
This day NOAA had forecast some moderate Northeast winds that had not been materializing in recent days. As the day went on the forecast slowly increased to 25 knots of wind from the Northeast.
That evening while eating dinner with the crew from Avalon Fire Department, the crew noticed a brief rain shower. Winds slowly started to increase as the day turned to night. At 8pm Baywatch Avalon received a request from Avalon Harbor Department to assist with a 90’ ferry that had broken its bow line to its mooring. On arrival, the vessel was stern to the wind and swell, hanging by one line. Baywatch Avalon and Patrol 55 assisted the vessel by towing the bow back into the wind. At this point the vessel was able to safely release the stern line and return to San Pedro in heavy swell.
Baywatch Avalon next attempted to assist another vessel that had had its bowline broken from the large waves that were forming. The vessel “EPIC” was also stern to the wind and in danger of breaking its last line. As Baywatch Avalon circled the vessel it wrapped both its propellers on one or more of the mooring lines that were all over the harbor. The Baywatch was completely disabled. At this point Steve put on a wetsuit and jumped into the water in an area of the harbor with almost no protection from the 7 foot waves. The wind at this point was blowing at least 30 knots whipping up the ocean and causing the air temperature to fall. The wind chill factor was around 35 degrees. Steve entered the water and was able to free one of the propellers. Baywatch Avalon was able to limp back to the rescue dock on one engine. In this weather, the Baywatch was almost helpless with one engine. Steve again entered the water to free the other badly wrapped propeller from the line that disabled it. It took Steve 30 minutes in low visibility freezing water with rage surge bouncing the vessel constantly. He finally freed the wrapped propeller, and Baywatch Avalon was able to return to its rescue duties.
Within minutes of clearing the propeller, a man was reported in the water off the casino. His 30’ sailing vessel had been forced aground by the wind and swell. The disabled boat broke up on the stairway leading to the dive park. Someone had seen a man in the water being swept away from the boat. Baywatch Avalon made its way out thru 6-foot waves, which were breaking on the Casino break wall. At this point, Steve spotted the head of a swimmer in the water. Steve again entered the freezing ocean to rescue the victim. The Baywatch was unable to maneuver with the mooring and breaking waves all around the boat. Steve towed the near drowned victim back to the Baywatch.
Baywatch Avalon with help from Avalon Harbor personnel next went to a vessel reporting distress anchored off Frog Rock. On arrival Baywatch Avalon found 10-foot swells with occasional breakers. There was no way to safely tow the vessel or to pull up to the side of the vessel. Steve again offered to enter the water and swim the occupants back to Baywatch Avalon. The occupants were too frail to risk being towed in the angry ocean. They also refused being lifted off by a helicopter. The only option was for them to ride out the storm on their set of anchors. They survived the night but the Baywatch almost did not being hit broadside by a 10 foot wave it almost flipped as they returned to the harbor.
Steve was put ashore to warm up from hypothermia. As he sat in the back of the Ambulance with the heater raging he treated multiple patients from the storms effects. At one point, a badly injured man was heroically dropped off on the rescue dock by Avalon Harbor Patrol. He had been trying to fend off a vessel that had broken free of its mooring and was bashing into the side of his vessel. His leg was caught between the two vessels resulting in a severe compound fracture. Even with all he had been through, Steve was instrumental in treating and medevacing the patient to a mainland trauma center for care.
Ocean Lifeguard Nick Facer
On October 26th 2014, Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguard and Torrance Fire Department Fire Engineer Nick Facer was in Ireland on a surf trip. The surf was in the 8-12 ft range and there were extremely strong offshore winds. The offshore winds were so strong that most spots were un-surfable. However Sligo beach had high sheer bluffs which kept the surf somewhat protected. Still, the near gale force winds made the normally protected bay difficult to manage. The group couldn’t see incoming waves as the wind blew spray in their faces. They had to constantly paddle just to keep from getting blown out to sea. It made surfing nearly impossible, even for experienced surfers.
While surfing in these challenging conditions, Nick was alerted that another surfer had been pulled offshore by the large rip. Nick was told that the Irish Coast Guard had been called. Because of the extremely rough conditions and the impending darkness, Nick decided he was going to paddle to the victim and stay with them until rescue workers arrived.
Although the ocean was manageable near shore, no one really knew what this foreign ocean was hiding outside the lee of the bluffs. Nick knew that strong winds have blown many people offshore to an unknown demise. Drowning, hypothermia, or just getting lost at sea were all becoming a brutal reality for the surfer offshore; who was now too far away to even be seen. That same reality was also true for any who dared attempt a rescue. Nick that he was the most qualified surfer in the group to attempt this rescue. Not only was Nick a lifeguard, but also an accomplished paddler; having competed in such distance events as the Rock to Rock Catalina channel crossing.
Nick paddled out with only a rough heading to go on. Nick’s surfboard was a 6’8’’ surfboard shaped narrow and thin for the strong surf. Not a paddleboard and definitely not a rescue board. Nick paddled hundreds of yards before he could catch sporadic glimpses of his victim. Nick was already exhausted from his previous surf session but lowered his head and paddled through sore muscles with sheer muster. Upon reaching his victim Nick found him too exhausted to battle back to shore. Nick instructed the gentleman to hold on to his leash and Nick would paddle for them both. Hypothermia was setting in and the victim, John Tracey, was barely able to hang onto the leash in the rough ocean. John let go several times. Each time Nick went back for him calmly assuring the man the whole time. Nick was now battling near gale force winds on an unsuitable craft with a double load. To compound the situation, the current was also sweeping them out to sea and down the coast away from the protected bay. The only exit point would be a bouldery shoreline, and that was if they made it.
Nick estimated that he paddled several miles during the rescue. He is unsure of the distance because the whole time he had to force his body to perform. Paddling through cramps and exhaustion Nick had to tell the victim, “We’re just going to keep going, we’re going to make it.” As they approached the shoreline the longshore current whisked them down coast at an even faster rate, pulling them from the safe harbor some of the points offered. Nick kept paddling and then he heard the sound of rotors. The Coast Guard had arrived. The Coast Guard assessed the situation and recognized that Nick had the situation under control. They hovered overhead to provide back up.
Nick continued to paddle them both to shore. They were swept through a bouldery maze, and eventually he and John put their feet back on solid ground. As soon as they landed the Coast Guard helicopter put down and John was loaded up and off to the hospital.
Later Nick realized just how dire the situation had become. Initially a rescue boat was dispatched. The seas were so rough that three Coast Guardsmen onboard were injured. Two Coast Guardsmen were hospitalized for their injuries. The boat had to turn around; they had no hope of battling through such conditions. The helicopter crew would later tell their unspoken fear, that this was already destined to be a recovery mission, that they might not even recover a body. Such small things are easily lost in an angry sea of white wash. For his heroic actions abroad Nick Facer is receiving a Lifeguard Medal of Valor.
2015 Distinguished Service Honorees
Ocean Lifeguard Matt Samuel
Ocean Lifeguard Kari Scoggins
Matt and Kari rescued a surfer off the Malibu Pier in huge surf. The surf at the pier jumped from a solid 6-feet to some devastating 20-foot sets when a surfer lost his board near the pier. Matt and Kari came off the beach without hesitation. When they got to the victim it looked like they might become pinned to the pier. Set waves were breaking 50-yards outside of their position making it impossible for Baywatch Malibu to assist so Matt and Kari swam their victim out through the incoming surf where they were picked up by Baywatch Malibu.
2015 Special Recognition Honoree
Rescue of unconscious surfer off the Manhattan Beach Pier. Natalie, Brent and Kyle are private citizens who were surfing off the Manhattan Pier when they spotted a surfer floating face down in the water. Seconds earlier the victim had hit a pier piling head first. Using Kyle's body-board as a backboard as well as floatation, the trio worked to bring their victim to shore through a series of set waves. As they neared shore they were met by lifeguards back from rescues on the other side of the pier.
2015 Lifetime Achievement Honoree
Scott Hubbell is our 24th recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Scott’s bond with the ocean began in the late fifties as a toddler on the Santa Monica and Malibu shorelines. No one could keep him out the water. Family members would often find him down the beach several towers away, depending on the direction of the lateral drifts. It was this love affair for the beach that has been the nucleus of his focus for over half a century.
During his formative years, Scott was exposed to some of the most celebrated watermen in the history of our lifeguard communities. He started his Beach Lifeguard career in 1975, on Venice Beach, during the merger between the L.A. City and L.A. County services. This afforded him a unique perspective at both the rich cultures of these cast of characters and their different styles of lifeguarding. Over the next several decades he increased his exposure, up and down the coast, to 30 chapters of the California Surf Lifesaving Association and several regions of the United States Lifesaving Association. Scott’s multiple sojourns to Hawaii and subsequent support of Hawaii’s Ocean competitions provided a reconnect between California Lifeguards and Hawaiian Lifeguard watermen.
No stranger to the podium in his water polo and swimming career as a youth, he transitioned into being a respected competitor in the lifeguard competitions. Humble in victory and gracious in defeat he never had losing on his mind. Tom Zahn along with his mentor “Tom Blake” took interest in this gregarious young lifeguard and encouraged him to use his knowledge and affection for ocean racing competitions to continue the legacy of our unique sport. Since 1976 Scott Hubbell Productions (SHP) Inc. has staged and or sponsored over 400 lifeguard/waterman related competitions.
His lifeguarding skills were honed at Zuma Beach where he spent most of his days lifeguarding in the mid seventies and early eighties where 20 plus rescues a day @ tower 4 were common place when the summer south swells came marching in. Scott earned respect from for his rescue skills in any size surf. Recently Chief Don Rohrer was quoted “ The worse the conditions got, the better Hubbell performed” He credits his success to the mentors who took the time to help him learn the ropes.
In competition, Hubbell was tough to beat around the race buoy. Many nationally ranked pool swimmers were left scratching their heads when finding him waiting for them at the finish line. He competed successfully in over 30 Taplin and Intracrew surf swim tryouts, where he made the teams well into his early forties. His competitive career included being an integral part of three consecutive Lifeguard Championship (Taplin) wins, member of the 1976 Iron Man National Championship 4-man relay, several Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association, United States Lifesaving Association/California Surf Lifesaving Association national championship squads, and a multitude of individual awards in dozens of other ocean events ranging from fishing tournaments to surfing contests. All of this culminated in his best performance, appearing in 3 different finals at the 1983 World Lifesaving championships in Hawaii.
During these “Golden Days” in the Surf & Sun, Scott was developing his promotions and production services company. His company, SHP Inc., has over 300 film and television credits related to the water safety arena. His successful track record includes taking care of some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Scott was also instrumental in the creation of the Baywatch television series (220 episodes) and was the key liaison between the L.A. County Lifeguards and several other Government agencies. He is currently the Stunt/Water Safety coordinator for NCIS L.A.
Due to the success of SHP Inc. in marketing and event promotions, the Department of Beaches and Harbors solicited Scott to administrate the Special Event Permits program. Scott took a sabbatical from lifeguarding in the tower for three years and tripled the amount of permit income for the L.A. County Coffers. The county continues to use his blue print today. Prior to that successful contract, Scott designed and proposed the first beach marketing concept that was approved by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. He also served Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association (LACOLA) as the marketing and competition director for two decades. His efforts as the Ways and Means chairman generated substantial funding for dozens of public education materials, Junior Lifeguard events, Team Uniforms, racing equipment, travel funds, Public Service Announcements and post event functions. Scott’s company Beachsport.org is extending his 40-year track record of supporting lifeguard and surf racing competitions, along with helping the Keaulana’s (his Hawaiian Ohana) in “Keeping the Lifeguard Waterman Spirit Alive”
His outside the box perspective and skills of promoting aquatic related sports has been utilized by USA Water Polo and the USA SUP team along with several Fortune 500 companies.
Instrumental in the development of the Beach Marketing business model that is utilized in several high profile coastal communities.
Beachsport.org stages over 250 events for 20,000 entrants each year. 40% are youth events.
Involved with Heal the Bay and the Surf Rider Foundation since their inception
Funded15 dories - 5 surf ski(s) and over 20 racing paddleboards to the different Lifeguard services
Supported Organizations and Notable Awards
LIFEGUARD ORGANIZATIONS USLA– CSLA – LACOLA – PSLA –ASRA – HLA
CSLSA (First Distinguished Honor Roll Award)
NATIONAL DORYMEN’S ASSOCIATION
USA SUP TEAM
COALITION OF SURF CLUBS
CALIFORNIA BEACH VOLLEYBALL ASSOCIATI0N
HEAL THE BAY
SEMANA NAUTICA “ SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR”
WORLD BODY SURFING “ HONOR ROLL”
MEMBER OF THE ADVISORY COUNCIL FOR SWIM MAGAZINE