The ocean can turn deadly even when you are used to the water. On February 24, 2016, in the evening, the Redondo Beach Fire Department received calls about people near the King Harbor breakwater wall crying for help.
Hatching A Plan
The Harbor Patrol boat had Firefighter/Harbor Patrol Officer David Poirier Js. on duty and the boat captain. They responded to the area where it was high tide, and a swell was bringing in waves on top of the wall at a steady pace of every four to six minutes.
Four people in the water had been fishing on the west side of the wall. A wave came over the wall and pulled them into the ocean. It was 15-feet from the wall to the water’s surface.
When Officer Poirier and the captain reached them, one of the victims was face down in the water and presumed dead, and the other three had severe injuries from their 15-foot fall.
They also had been in the water for about 20 minutes and were in shock and showing signs of hypothermia. So the captain and Poirier developed a plan. Poirier would get in the water with the victims while the captain went to get some more help.
Rescuing The Victims
When the captain came back, large waves were crashing down on Poirier and the three survivors, pulling them off the rocks and back under the water. Finally, Poirier surfaced with two female victims, and the male was able to get back onto the rocks.
Officer Poirier took the two female victims to the boat along with the deceased victim. He then went back to the rocks for the man.
Waves were higher than the wall, crashing down on Officer Poirier and the man. Even though the waves were relentless, Officer Poirer was able to get the man to the rescue boat.
Since this was a nighttime rescue, conditions were even more difficult than a daytime rescue and more hazardous. However, due to Officer Poirier’s skills and bravery, the three victims were saved from the water.
For his bravery and courage, he was awarded the Medal of Valor.