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March 20, 2006

Student honored for bravery in rescue

Senior James Wilson was honored March 16 “for bravery in the face of danger” in saving the life of a young girl caught in a strong riptide in September 2005.

Photo of James Wilson

James Wilson receiving his honorary plaque from Associate Vice Chancellor Jean Marie Scott.
Photo: Louise Donahue

“Once a lifeguard, always a lifeguard,” said Wilson matter-of-factly as he was presented a plaque by Jean Marie Scott, associate vice chancellor of Colleges and University Housing Services.

Wilson, a lifeguard at the UCSC pool, was relaxing on a Santa Cruz beach with his girlfriend when she noticed the girl being pulled out by the riptide. After Wilson rushed to rescue the girl, he said, he returned to the water to save the girl's babysitter, who was also having trouble in the water.

While Wilson said he has saved about four people as a pool lifeguard, “the most adventure-filled rescues have been when I'm off duty. It seems like things just happen in front of me.”

Wilson, a College Ten environmental studies major, plans to be an interpretive guide with the East Bay Regional Parks District when he graduates. It is the same park district where he got his lifeguard training at 16.

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