Donald James Sack saved Martin Poirier from drowning, Shelter Cove, California, March 25, 2000. Poirier, 37, was swept into the Pacific Ocean by the strong backwash of a breaking wave as he attempted to save members of his hiking group who also were swept into the ocean. In his 18-foot boat on the ocean about six miles away, Sack, 46, fisherman, learned of the situation by radio and responded to the scene. Finding one of the victims beyond the breakers, Sack secured her and took her to another boat that had responded. Returning to the scene to look for other victims, Sack saw Poirier at a point closer to shore, or well into the 12-foot breakers. Sack took his boat into the breakers and maneuvered it to a point near Poirier. After shouting to get Poirier’s attention, Sack threw him a line as he turned his boat to face the breakers. Poirier grasped the rope and held it as Sack towed him from the breakers. Sack then positioned Poirier against the boat and secured him by an arm as he single-handedly took the boat to calmer waters. Another fisherman boarded the boat and helped Sack pull Poirier from the 48-degree water. Sack took Poirier to shore, from where Poirier was taken to the hospital. He was detained overnight for treatment of having nearly drowned and hypothermia, and he recovered. Sack twisted his right knee, but he too recovered. Three members of Poirier’s hiking group drowned.
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