Michael T. McDonnell, left, and Dylan Patrick Smith, right, teamed up to rescue six people from drowning on Oct. 29, 2012, the day that Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast coast of the U.S. As the hurricane’s winds created a catastrophic storm surge that inundated the streets of their Rockaway Beach, N.Y., neighborhood, a fire broke out and spread quickly toward the house where McDonnell and others were living.
Under McDonnell’s direction, the residents assembled the makeshift line, including twine and extension cords, that McDonnell is shown holding. By then, Smith responded on his surfboard from his nearby home to help. He took the free end of the line across the street, where it was secured to another neighbor’s house. One by one, he and McDonnell then ferried the other residents to safety, using the extended line as a guide. Two of the residents who were rescued, Kathryn Gregg and Jim DiBenedetto, are also shown. (The photo is by David Yellen and is used with permission.)
McDonnell and Smith were each awarded the Carnegie Medal in December of 2013 for their actions. Sadly, Smith’s award had to be made posthumously, as he died two months after his heroic act, in an accident in Puerto Rico.