High school student Alec Justin Smith, 16, of San Jose, Calif., saved a boy from going over Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park, Calif., on April 9 last year. A 9-year-old boy entered the Merced River just above the 317-foot fall and was carried downstream by the swift current toward the brink of the fall. In another party on the bank at the scene, Alec was alerted to the situation. He immediately ran to the river, jumping over a three-foot-high railing en route. At the water line, he lay on the smooth granite bank, which was slick, and, holding by one arm to a knob in the rock, extended his body partially into the 36-degree water at a point about 20 feet from the fall. With his other hand he grasped the boy when the boy came within reach. Alec pulled the boy onto the bank, where another man then helped to secure them as they regained their footing.
Smith, second from right, is shown with his parents, Justin, right, and Melissa, and brothers, Nolan, left, and Peyton, at the brink of Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park, Calif.