UPDATED to add information about another rescuer.
For the second time in less than six months, a Corona del Mar High School student has saved a life by pulling an injured man from the waves off Newport Beach to the shore.
Hunter Wetton, 15 1/2, said he and some friends were at the Wedge on March 30, taking advantage of an early-out day at school to bodyboard.
“The waves were kind of weird,” he said. “Not that big, six feet, but the way they were breaking was out of the ordinary.”
Hunter said they hadn’t been there long when he saw a man they recognized from other days at the beach who appeared to misjudge a wave.
“The guy is experienced,” Hunter said. “I’ve seen him out when it’s 15 feet; he goes all the time. But he took off a little late and hit the bottom. I saw him take off but didn’t see him come back out.”
Another bodyboarder also saw the accident and began swimming to the victim, calling for help. Hunter, who has been in the Junior Lifeguard program since he was 9 years old, immediately responded.
“I swam over and helped the other guy get him out,” he said. “He was in shock, I think. He was calling to us, but he could barely speak. I knew he was pretty messed up.”
Hunter, along with another Corona del Mar High School student, helped to pull the man to shore and stabilize him.
Tyler Stanaland, a former Laguna Beach lifeguard, orchestrated the rescue, calling for help and instructing the others.
“We held his neck to make sure he wasn’t moving, and I yelled ‘Call 911, call 911!” Hunter said.
Lifeguards and paramedics responded at 1:52 p.m., said Jennifer Schulz, a Newport Beach Fire Department spokeswoman.
“Once on scene, individuals approached firefighters and gave them a full assessment of the patient and directed them to the patient,” she said in an email. Emergency workers assessed the patient and prepared to transport him to Western Medical Center-Santa Ana, she said.
“Capt. Dennis Edwards commented that he wished all calls went that smoothly with someone giving them a brief patient assessment as they arrived on scene,” she said. “This was truly appreciated by the firefighters, lifeguards and paramedics.”
Hunter said his Junior Guard training kicked in, so he knew what to do without even thinking about it.
“I just went out to help,” he said. “It was the right thing to do. And then, we just went back in the water and hoped for the best for him.”
In October, Corona del Mar High School senior Josh Wills-King was credited for rescuing a drowning man off Big Corona State Beach; read our story here.
Photo courtesy of Hunter Wetton.