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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Coast Guard Awards Silver Lifesaving Medal for Heroic Search-and-Rescue

The Coast Guard recognized members of the maritime community at Base Los Angeles-Long Beach Thursday.

Capt. Monica Rochester, the Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach commander, presented awards and certificates to the first responders for their heroism during a search-and-rescue case at Salta Verde Point, Catalina Island.

On June 25, 2016, a passenger boat carrying seven individuals capsized in rough surf off Salta Verde Point. A Catalina Island Conservancy ranger, a Los Angeles County Fire Department-Lifeguard Division boatcrew and multiple good Samaritan mariners sprang into action. Their collective efforts in the face of extreme peril resulted in four lives being saved.

“It was an honor and privilege to recognize these first responders for their courageousness and selfless acts of heroism,” said Rochester. “The actions performed on June 25, 2016 are a tribute to the spirit of seafaring partnership the Coast Guard always looks to facilitate.”

Daniel Black, formerly of the Catalina Island Conservancy, was awarded the Coast Guard’s second highest award for maritime valor, the Silver Lifesaving Medal. Black had been on a routine patrol when he observed the boat capsize. Black ran more than a mile to the beach and began providing emergency medical aid to survivors. After helping several victims on shore, he learned that one person was stuck under the hull of the capsized vessel. Disregarding his personal safety, he then waded into eight-foot breaking waves to drag a final survivor from the boat. Black’s heroic actions ensured that this individual survived.

“I’m very humbled and very lucky to be recognized today,” said Black, now serving in the Army in Tennessee. “I was new to Catalina when this happened. I couldn’t have done what I did alone. It took teamwork, physical fitness and a great support network to help save those people.”

Capt. Robert Pelkey, Brian Kari and Jeff Wilk, from the Los Angeles County Fire Department-Lifeguard Division received Certificates of Valor. These individuals were part of a boat crew that drove into crashing waves to retrieve survivors from the water. Additionally, the boat crew coordinated the transfer of survivors to a responding Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter for transportation to a local hospital.

“It’s great to be part of the maritime community on Catalina Island,” said Pelkey. “Receiving this recognition today was such a tremendous honor.”

A Certificate of Valor was also awarded to John Ivins of San Clemente. Ivins had been fishing when he observed the vessel capsize. After vectoring other responders toward individuals in the water, Ivins boarded a dinghy and used a life ring to pull a survivor 50 feet to safety.

Read more at USCG

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