2016 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees
2016 Medal of Valor Honorees
Ocean Lifeguard Jon Van Duinwyk
On a beautiful fall afternoon in November, a 40-foot yacht caught fire several hundred years off Venice Beach. As horrified beachgoers watched from the shore, the blaze quickly encompassed the cabin & stern of the vessel, as the four passengers on board made their way to the bow of the boat. Unable to don lifejackets, the passengers of the flaming vessel were forced to jump into the water just as Baywatch Del Rey arrived on-scene. The incoming Baywatch Rescue Boat crew were quick to identify a mother clutching her infant child on the bow of the vessel. Captain Andrew Greger skillfully positioned his Rescue Boat as Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Van Duinwyk, the Baywatch deckhand, dove into the water just as the mother and infant leap into the sea. Van Duinwyk quickly swam to the struggling mother put her on his rescue can and held the infant above his head as he swam them to the safety of the Rescue Boat. Van Duinwyk then returned to the water below the flaming vessel to rescue the remaining three adult victims. All persons aboard were rescued with no injuries to report, though the yacht was a complete loss.
Ocean Lifeguard Spencer Parker
On Labor Day Monday, lifeguards were facing the busiest day of a busy three-day weekend. The surf was building, and the largest sets in Manhattan Beach were hitting the bottom of the pier. Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Spencer Parker was operating the Rescue Water Craft, and had already made numerous rescues, when he received a call to respond to the South side of the Manhattan Pier, to assist with a multiple victim rescue. While responding, he was informed that it was three lifeguards and four victims, in a rip current, rapidly being pushed towards the Pier pilings by the strong South current. OLS Parker realized that if he went around the pier, he would be too late, and the guards and victims would be washed by the 10-foot set waves through the pier, where it would be impossible for the lifeguards to safely manage their victims. Instead, he quickly navigated through the troughs and whitewater, avoiding the crests of the waves that would have smashed he and the RWC into the bottom of the pier. He also managed to avoid the pier pilings, and reached the victims just before the next wave. With no momentum, and 7 people hanging onto the back of the craft, he managed to crest the next two waves, just staying clear of the pier. Once safely outside the set of waves, OLS Parker released two of the lifeguards to swim back to the beach, lightening the load enough that he could safely transport the remaining lifeguard and the four victims to the beach on the North side. Throughout the rest of the day, he made more than 35 other rescues.
2016 Distinquished Service Honorees
Ocean Lifeguard Colby Trivette
Over Labor Day weekend, Ocean Lifeguard Trivette was opening the tower at Malibu Surfrider Beach, next to the Malibu Pier. It was first thing in the morning, and no other lifeguards were on duty yet. A surfer came out of the water, not feeling well, and by the time OL Trivette arrived, the surfer had suffered cardiac arrest. In front of a large crowd, OL Trivette requested back up and a paramedic response, assessed and positioned the patient, directed bystander CPR, and applied the AED (automatic external defibrillator). The AED recognized a shockable cardiac rhythm, OL Trivette cleared bystanders from the area, and a shock was delivered. The patient immediately began to recover, and was awake and alert by the time the paramedics arrived. An anesthesiologist, who witnessed the event, wrote in a letter to the Fire Chief that OL Trivette “exhibited the calm, confidence, and skills under pressure that are required to save lives. A calm that is so important to thinking clearly and quickly during those precious seconds.”
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Ivan Wilkins
Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Ivan Wilkins was patrolling Manhattan Beach aboard a RWC (Rescue Water Craft) when he noticed one of the El Porto lifeguards at the shoreline by a large ripcurrent. As the beach lifeguard was warning swimmers out the ripcurrent area, he noticed a small boy bouncing in the shallow water. The lateral current started dragging the boy towards an inshore hole, a set wave hit him, and the rip began to carry him offshore. The after being struck by another wave, the boy went underwater and did not resurface. As the beach lifeguard began searching for the boy, Wilkins, who had alertly responded to the area and observed the boy go under, was able to navigate inside the surfline, between swimmers and the waves, to locate the submerged boy and assist the beach lifeguard in bringing him to the surface. The beach lifeguard then safely returned him to shore. OLS Wilkins would go on to make 41 other rescues that day aboard the RWC.
2016 Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement Honoree
Supervisor Don Knabe
Don Knabe, the longtime Los Angeles County Supervisor, representing the South Bay, is this year’s County Lifeguard’s Lifetime Achievement honoree. Don Knabe, a man who has dedicated his life to public service and is renown for his intelligence, integrity, loyalty, humor, and family values, which includes being a part of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard family for almost 40 years.
After being born and raised in the beach community of Rock Island, Illinois, Don received his Business Administration degree from Graceland University in Iowa, served in the Navy, where the salt water led him to Cerritos, California. Married to his wonderful wife Julie, with whom they have two sons, two beautiful daughters-in-law and four spectacular grandchildren, he represents the best values of us all.
Supervisor Knabe compiled over 36 years of public service, including serving on the City of Cerritos City Council and two terms as Mayor. It was during this time, that he was appointed to the staff of 4th District Supervisor, Deane Dana. Here he began his 34-year career with Los Angeles County, and quickly rose to the position of Chief of Staff for Supervisor Dana. It was also here that Don first began his long association with the Beach communities and with the Los Angeles County Lifeguards.
It is without hyperbole that without Don Knabe, the Los Angeles County Beaches and Lifeguards would not exist in the form they are today. Due to Supervisor Knabe’s vision, political skills and tenacity, the Los Angeles County Lifeguards were merged into the Fire Department, and survived a State takeover of Los Angeles beaches, including local beaches Royal Palms, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach.
Throughout his career, he has vigorously supported improved beach safety and youth programs for Los Angeles’ most popular resource, our beaches. Among his many accomplishments for these beaches, he facilitated the long-term beach operating agreements with the cities of Avalon, Hermosa Beach, and Rancho Palos Verdes. He worked to insure funding for beach facilities thru-out the District, including the Avalon station and restroom, Isthmus station and clinic, Baywatch Cabrillo station, Torrance station and restrooms, Hermosa Beach station and restrooms, Manhattan Beach Junior Guard facility and restrooms, El Segundo station and restroom, Dockweiler Beach Youth Center, LG station, restrooms and RV park as well as the Marina del Rey Boat Service Center. He helped secure funding for three replacement “Baywatch” rescue boats from a 50 year-old fleet, and lead the effort to fund the replacement of old wooden LG towers, many over 70 years old.
Supervisor Don Knabe, in addition to being such a strong supporter of the Los Angeles County beaches, is probably better known for his fiscal prudence, which lead to the County’s current stable financial state; and for saving lives in many other ways, including his development of the now national “Safe Surrender Program”, a program which has saved hundreds of innocent babies lives; his spearheading the awareness of human trafficking, not only in Los Angeles County, but nationwide; and his staunch support of the Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Hospital.
A man of compassion, dedication and caring, Don Knabe.