Peter Pontzer, an administrative law judge for the Postal Service, was vacationing with his family along the North Carolina coast in July when two teenage swimmers became caught in rough waves.
Pontzer grabbed a buoy and swam out to assist another rescuer. They recovered a 13-year-old-boy and brought him safely back to shore.
They then learned another boy was still in the water. Pontzer tried to rescue him, but he lost sight of the teenager. The Emerald Isle fire and rescue team used a jet ski to find the boy, who was taken to a hospital but didn’t survive.
Pontzer and the other rescuer were treated for exhaustion stemming from the rescue. Both have recovered.
The Emerald Isle police chief later thanked Pontzer and everyone else involved for their efforts.