By Daniel Langhorne, Special to the Independent
A 15-year-old Laguna Beach High School sophomore was honored by the City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 3, for his extraordinary ocean rescue of a mother and son last month off Thalia Street Beach.
At about 2:35 p.m. on Nov. 14, Gavin Pike was laying in the sand when he noticed two people getting caught up in a rip current and rapidly pulling them out to sea, said Capt. Kai Bond of Laguna Beach Marine Safety.
“Gavin got up and took action without a flotation device and swam through treacherous surf to make contact with these panicking people, struggling to keep their heads above water,” Bond said.
When asked what was going through his mind when he dove in the water, Gavin said, “I wasn’t really thinking. My only thought was to see what was going on and try to help the people and get the job done. My mind went into lifeguard mode.”
Gavin pulled the mother and son out of the rip current, through the surf, and onto the shoreline, Bond said. The swimmers were evaluated at the scene by lifeguards and paramedics and released from a local hospital later that day.
“It was a miracle that I was there,” Gavin said. “It’s just crazy that’s how quickly someone can lose their lives.”
The previous week, Gavin trained with the Laguna Beach Lifeguards as part of Surfers Awareness in Lifesaving Techniques, a pilot program that teaches marine lifesaving skills and how to spot dangerous ocean conditions.
Gavin stood next to his mother, Elaine Pike, while Mayor Bob Whalen read a proclamation Tuesday recognizing the extraordinary rescue. The audience in the Council chambers gave the teenager a standing ovation as he humbly accepted the certificate.
“It definitely felt really good, because I’ve never been acknowledged that greatly from someone,” Gavin reflected after the Council meeting. “It was an honor to shake hands with the mayor.”
As Gavin left the meeting, Bond asked him if he plans to attend the seasonal lifeguard tryouts next year.
“Gavin has proven to be a viable candidate but there are a lot more steps involved when it comes to being an ocean lifeguard,” Bond said. “We hope he comes and tries out to be out a seasonal ocean lifeguard.”
Gavin said later in an interview that he’s decided to try out.
Laguna Beach Lifeguard tryouts will be held at 9 a.m. on March 21, 2020, at the Main Beach Lifeguard Tower. Candidates can sign in as early as 7:30 a.m.View Our User Comment Policy