A 23-year-old lifeguard, hailed by People as a hero for saving six people during Hurricane Sandy, drowned while surfing in Puerto Rico, a family friend said.
Dylan Smith, of the New York borough of Queens, was found Sunday morning floating near his surfboard near the popular resort Maria’s Beach near Rincon, police said.
“The same sport — the sport of surfing — that he used to save all those people, it’s so shocking that he perished that way,” said New York Fire Department Chief Michael Light, a family friend.
Smith and 51-year-old Michael McDonnell were honored in People’s Dec. 6 issue as “2012 Heroes of the Year” for saving six people from the fast-paced flooding during Hurricane Sandy Oct. 29. The two attached a rope to Smith’s surfboard, which they then used to pull the group to safety in the Rockaways, one of the hardest hit areas during the storm, the New York Daily News reported Monday.