National City Boy Hailed a Hero in Near-Drowning Incident

Two National City residents were honored Thursday for saving a 6-year-old from drowning in an apartment complex pool.

Juan Lopez and Hunter Velasquez were recognized for their life-saving actions at the National City Council meeting.

Thirteen-year old Velasquez never thought he'd be considered a hero.

“Feeling kind of proud, kind of good,” said Velasquez. “I'm glad that the kid is safe.’

The kid he’s referring to is D'tyshyne Wallace. Velasquez discovered Wallace at the bottom of the complex pool while playing a game with his friends on May 26.

“I dived in to get some pennies that my friend threw and that's when I saw the kid,” he said.

The boy had fallen into 6 to 8-feet of water and was lifeless at the bottom.

“I just saw him and I'm ‘Oh, that wasn't right’ so I just dived in and grabbed him,” he said. “Go with my gut and do it.”

After Wallace was brought to the surface of the water, Lopez started doing CPR until the child began breathing on his own. The child survived the incident.

Lifeguards say Hunter should be considered an ambassador for National City.

"He said he was scared looking down in the water with the boy down there but he went and that is really the mark of a true hero,” said Sgt. John Sandmeyer. “To be scared and to still, despite that fear, to perform an incredible act. For that, we’re all inspired.”

Velasquez was awarded a scholardhip to the San Diego junior lifeguard camp that started this week. Lifeguards say the teenager has already become a leader.

Velasquez takes it all stride. He’s just thankful that Wallace is still alive.

“I see him around the apartments all happy. He just comes and says hello and gives me a hug and says ‘thank you,’” he said. 

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