On July 19, 2018, 12-year-old Blake Brock was playing in the ocean with his brothers off of Southern Shores, N.C., when a rip current carried him into water that was about 12 feet deep. Blake’s mother’s fiancé, Kenneth Raye Gooch, Jr., 32, a laborer of Powells Point, N.C., and vacationing firefighter Michael S. Chandler, 52, of Stafford, Va., responded. Gooch swam about 200 feet to Blake, moved behind him, grasped him under his arms, and threw Blake away from the rip current. Gooch struggled to stay afloat as he was carried by the current about 60 feet farther from the beach. By then, Chandler had entered the water and swam about 240 feet to Blake. Chandler grasped one of Blake’s arms and towed Blake to shallow water atop a sandbar where others assisted Blake to shore. Blake had swallowed sea water and was treated at the hospital for shock. He recovered. Chandler was nearly exhausted after the rescue, but he was not injured. Ocean rescue crews pulled Gooch from the water, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. He had drowned.

89979-10090/90110-10091


Related articles:


Back to awardees
News release PDF