Hailed a hero: Teen surfer saves drowning man in California

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SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) – A 17-year-old is being hailed a hero after saving a man who was drowning at Sunny Cove, a beach in Santa Cruz, California, over the weekend.

The local surfer didn’t hesitate to jump to the rescue.

“There was a lot of water moving and it was high tide. A lot of backwash,” Zade Stone-Hinds said.

Stone-Hinds, from Santa Cruz, had just gotten out of the water at Sunny Cove Saturday morning, when he saw the young man struggling in the waves.

“I got him up on my board and let him breathe, just kind of relax and then some sets starting coming,” Stone-Hinds said. 

The waves were strong and about 6-8 feet high, and Stone-Hinds ended up losing his surfboard during the rescue.

“He was struggling a little bit, kinda couldn’t really tread or anything, and he told me it was his first time he’s ever been in the ocean,” Stone-Hinds said. 

Stone-Hinds kept the man afloat until help arrived: rescue swimmers from Central Fire Protection District and Sean Rothwell, assistant harbor master.

Rothwell says the local surfers often are the first to help swimmers having a tough time in the water.

“We’ve had plenty of calls over the years where our local surfing community will render aid, and we count on them quite a bit actually,” Sean Rothwell, assistant harbor master, said. 

Rothwell says this victim was brought to shore with just a few minor injuries — thanks to Stone-Hinds and his quick thinking.

Many are calling Stone-Hinds a hero, including witnesses to the rescue, like Kammy Ryckman.

“He was amazing, he really was amazing,” Ryckman said of Stone-Hinds. 

Stone-Hinds says he was just doing what needed to be done.

“I’m not going to hesitate on something like that, that I feel so comfortable doing,” Stone-Hinds said.

People are now trying to raise money to buy Stone-Hinds a new surfboard.

“It’s a little overwhelming, but I’m glad people can see what you should do, just like I hope people know that when something is going on in public, they can act on it and not leave people hanging,” Stone-Hinds said.

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