Gavin Pike stands on the beach awaiting a surf competition. Pike’s involvement in the surf team gave him the skills necessary to save the mother and son from the rip current.

Gavin to the rescue

On Nov. 14, sophomore Gavin Pike saved a mother and son drowning in a riptide at Main Beach. Gavin’s involvement in the SALT Program helped him learn the protocol to save someone in a rip current. 

“The situation felt surreal,” said Pike. “The fact that the people would have died if I wasn’t there still hasn’t settled in yet.”

Thankfully, every surfer at LBHS is required to take the SALT Program taught by the Laguna Beach Lifeguards. 

“The SALT program curriculum teaches participants how to identify swimmers in distress and how to approach them in the water when they may be fighting for their life,” said Scott Finn, the LBHS surf coach. 

Even experienced swimmers can find themselves in threatening situations and fail to recognize when they are caught in a rip current.  

“I would give the advice to stay calm, and instead of trying to swim into the shore, swim parallel to the coastline in order to get out of the rip,” said Pike. 

The SALT Program is very helpful and valuable to anyone who lives on the coast. 

“I think anyone that spends time in the ocean should be trained in basic life-saving techniques,” said Finn. “In the water, the Laguna Beach Lifeguards will teach our team about how to rescue a potential spine injury, focusing on removing an individual from the water while keeping the head, neck, and spine stabilized.”

Knowing what could’ve happened if Pike hadn’t been there, the mother and son have lots of gratitude.

“They have not contacted me yet, but the son asked for my contact information as he said his mom will want to write me a letter,” said Pike. 

Gavin’s coach couldn’t be more proud of him and his rescue. 

“Gavin is an amazing young man,” Finn said. “He is always engaged in learning and displayed the courage and bravery to put his learning into action.”

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