San Diego

Oceanside Lifeguard Awarded Highest Medal for Valor in Public Safety

The lifeguard was recognized for heroic actions while saving a man's life in 2016

Calif. Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra awarded an Oceanside lifeguard with the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor in Sacramento Monday.

Oceanside Fire Department Lifeguard David Wilson was recognized for going “above and beyond the call of duty” to rescue a nearly unconscious man from a boating accident in 2016, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

On July 17, 2016, Wilson and his lifeguard partner responded to a distress call at Oceanside Harbor, and saw a semi-conscious man caught between a capsized craft and rocks, in an area known as the Devil’s Triangle due to pounding waves, according to the statement.

While his partner radioed for help, Wilson attempted to lift the man and alleviate the pressure of the crashing waves, sustaining bruises and cuts, then working to lift the man to help when rescuers arrived.

“You were vulnerable but that didn’t stop you,” said Brown, “you exercised real courage. That’s what we recognize and reward. That’s what we’re doing today.”

After the man was transported to a local hospital, Wilson denied medical treatment for himself and went on to rescue 20 more people with his lifeguard colleagues that day, according to the statement.

The Public Safety Medal of Valor is the highest national award for public safety officers, and is presented annually to officers who have shown “exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.

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