At the beginning of the Newport Beach City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 28, Mayor Will O’Neill presented seasonal lifeguard Sean Richards with a special recognition for a pair of heroic rescues that Richards made on July 3, 2020, when high surf conditions flooded the Balboa Peninsula.
“Whereas Sean Richards was hired as a seasonal lifeguard in 2014 and developed his lifeguarding skills by participating in the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard program and his strong lifeguarding and waterman abilities took him to the most challenging towers in Newport Beach, including The Wedge and Tower 18,” read Mayor O’Neill.
According to the proclamation, Richards was stationed at Newport Beach Tower A near the Balboa Pier when he recognized swimmers struggling in the shore break.
“His keen lifeguarding skills set him into action,” continued O’Neill. “He entered the water to perform a rescue. Upon successfully rescuing and returning the first swimmer to shore, he noticed the other victim being swept toward the Balboa Pier. Without hesitation, Sean reentered the surf line and reached the swimmer south of the pier. Sean held on to the victim as they were both swept through the pier pilings, buffeted by eight-foot breaking waves. He protected the victim from being tossed against the pilings. Upon clearing the pier, Sean safely delivered the victim to shore, where other lifeguards were ready to assist.”
According to O’Neill, Richards was exhausted from making the back to back rescues and collapsed on the sand. He was transported to Hoag hospital, and was later released.
“I, Mayor Will O’Neill, on behalf of the entire Newport Beach City Council, do hereby recognize seasonal lifeguard Sean Richard’s skillful and courageous actions performed during hazardous ocean conditions saved two lives on July 3, 2020. Congratulations Sean.”
After a round of applause, Mayor O’Neill noted that on July 3 he received a call from the city’s Fire Chief saying they were transporting a lifeguard to the hospital.
“As a mayor, short of being your parent, it was one of the scariest calls I have received this year. Then the chief explained he’s going to be okay, and let me tell you about the rescues he just made. I could not be more proud of you. This is a staggering accomplishment, you went out and saved people. That is what you signed up to do, you took all the training you learned, and you have done something you should be proud of the rest of your life. I can’t begin to express my appreciation for everything you have done, and the way you have represented our city.”
Mayor Pro Tem Brad Avery added his thanks, stating “on behalf of the city, thank you so much. Your fellow lifeguards would have done the same thing, but you were there and acted heroically.”
“I am honored to salute you,” said Councilmember Diane Dixon. “I asked for data, last Friday we had 57,000 on our beaches, and on Saturday 77,000. We are putting the population of Orange County on our beaches, and they are protected by the best and the finest in lifesaving personnel that the state can find. I am so honored for what you do. You are a hard-working dedicated public servant. You are a hero.”
Councilmember Joy Brenner told Richards that she is a mother of a Junior Lifeguard and grandmother of a Junior Lifeguard,
“Thank you for them,” said Brenner. “Thank you for being such a wonderful role model, and example for them to follow. We are all proud of you.”
“You are a testament for what we do from the top down,” added Councilmember Kevin Muldoon.
“Thank you, and a huge thanks to the entire department for your perseverance under the current conditions we are living with under with this pandemic, and the number of people you have had to watch over on our beaches,” said Councilmember Jeff Herdman.”