‘He's Pale': Aspiring Lifeguard, Kayaker Tries to Save Snorkeler in La Jolla Cove

Paul Rooney, a New York resident visiting San Diego with his family, died while snorkeling in La Jolla on Monday evening

A soon-to-be lifeguard kayaking in San Diego’s La Jolla Cove acted swiftly when she noticed a snorkeler in distress in the water – using everything she’s learned in an effort to save the man’s life.

Becca Trosch, 29, never thought she would experience that kind of real-life training this soon in her career. On Monday at around 6 p.m., as Trosch was kayaking near La Jolla Cove, she spotted snorkeler Paul Rooney in trouble and fighting for his life in the water a few hundred yards from the shoreline.

Rooney – a 49-year-old New York resident visiting San Diego with his family – was suffering from cardiac issues.

“I see he’s pale and he’s having difficulty breathing. Signs he’s having cardiac issues,” Trosch recounted in an exclusive interview with NBC 7 Tuesday. “At this point, we knew we were in a blind spot and the lifeguard couldn’t see us.”

Trosch said she paddled to where lifeguards could see them.

Another kayaker came over and together they waved their paddles indicating to lifeguards they needed help. Trosch also called 911 from her phone that she kept in her dry case.

“I just went through EMT school,” she explained.

Trosch said her training kicked in. She was able to keep calm and do what needed to be done before lifeguards arrived.

“We got him on the paddleboard and started doing chest compressions until the jet ski got there,” she said.

Trosch, who’s currently working for Everyday California in La Jolla, said she will soon be hired as a local lifeguard.

“I couldn’t have imagined this happening in my career ever,” she told NBC 7, still in shock over the rescue.

As scary as the incident was, Trosch said she’s as passionate as ever about being a lifeguard.

“Whether it’s a life or death situation or getting someone that’s scared out of a rip current,” she added.

Sadly, Rooney did not survive. After being pulled from the water, he was rushed to Scripps Memorial Hospital where he later died. His cause of death was determined to be drowning, and the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office said cardiac issues contributed to his death.

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