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Dylan Smith, a 23-year-old surfer who dramatically helped save lives during Superstorm Sandy, tragically drowned on Sunday in Puerto Rico.
According to The New York Daily News, Smith’s body was found near the surfboard he loved by the popular Maria’s Beach resort on the western coast of Puerto Rico. His body was spotted by a local resident and a doctor tried to resuscitate him but it was too late.
“The same sport — the sport of surfing — that he used to save all those people, it’s so shocking that he perished that way,” FDNY chief and family friend Michael Light told the Daily News.
On Oct. 29, during the worst of Hurricane Sandy, Smith and a fellow Bell Harbour resident helped pull a group of six people to safety in the Rockaways, saving them from the fires that broke out.
People magazine even named Smith one of their Heroes of the Year, along with Michael McDonnell, the man who helped him pull off the daring rescue.
Smith spoke to the Daily News after the rescue, telling that he was only doing what McDonnell asked and that he didn’t want to be called a hero. He just put his training as a lifeguard to work.
“I don’t want to talk about me,” he told the Daily News earlier this month. “I don’t think I’m a hero. Absolutely not. I just did what I was trained to. I’m a lifeguard. I surf. This is what I do.”
Still, Light called him an “absolute hero.”
McDonnell recently said that he will create a non-profit foundation called Bridgerope Foundation for the Rockaways to help others.