Michael Hebert helped to save Ryan J. Dispenza from drowning, Crystal Beach, Texas, March 19, 2001. On an inflatable raft in the Gulf of Mexico, Ryan, 12, was carried farther from the beach and could not return. His father attempted to rescue him, but the raft was drifting seaward faster than the father could swim. On vacation at a beach house nearby, Hebert, 37, police officer, saw the situation. He immediately donned an available wet suit, although it was ill fitting, and entered the water with a surfboard. Hebert paddled toward the raft, which continued to drift out, and after about 20 minutes reached it at a point about three-fourths of a mile from shore. Hebert climbed onto the raft to escape the chill of the 63-degree water and, nearly exhausted, rested for several minutes. He then attempted to paddle the raft back to the beach but made no progress against a 20-m.p.h. wind blowing from shore. The raft continued to drift out. It was located at least two miles from shore by a helicopter and a utility boat that were dispatched by the Coast Guard. Fifty minutes after Hebert had entered the water, he and Ryan were pulled aboard the boat and treated for hypothermia. They were taken to the Coast Guard station, from which they were transferred to the hospital for further treatment. They recovered.
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