2012-12-28 / Front Page

Rockaway Loses Hero

Dan Guarino

Dylan Smith Dylan Smith This week Rockaway mourns the loss of lifeguard Dylan Smith, hailed as a hero for his rescue of trapped neighbors at the height of Hurricane Sandy.

A professional lifeguard and avid surfer, the 23 year old Smith drowned while vacationing in Puerto Rico.

On the night of the hurricane, Smith, along with Chefs Diet sales director Michael McDonnell, employed a homemade rope bridge and his surfboard to ferry six trapped Belle Harbor residents to safety. Smith worked against more than six foot storm surge waves and a fast moving gas-line fire on Beach 130 Street.

Raised in Rockaway, Dylan Smith attended St. Frances de Sales School and was a graduate of Xavier High School.

Smith worked summers as a lifeguard for several years in the Far Rockaway area. He worked also as a waiter and bartender at the Harbor Light Pub restaurant. The Harbor Light was itself destroyed by raging fires during Hurricane Sandy.

Smith was noted by friends as being a “big time surfer” who “loved to skateboard”.

According to them, he also loved Rincon, Puerto Rico, visiting the area every winter to surf.

Prior to his death Smith was named one of People magazine’s “Heroes of the Year” for risking his life to save others and his story was featured in the New York Daily News, on NBC and in other news outlets.

According to reports, on Sunday December 23 he and his surfboard were spotted floating in the waters off Maria’s Beach, near Rincon, an area noted for its excellent surfing. He was pulled to shore, but despite a doctor’s efforts to revive him, he was pronounced dead.

Funeral arrangements were made by the Denis S. O’Connor Funeral Home, with a wake being held on Thursday and Friday, December 27 and 28, at the Marine Park Funeral Home of Brooklyn, New York.

A Funeral Mass is scheduled for Saturday, December 29, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Francis de Sales, 129-16 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Belle Harbor.

His passing was noted in the media and as far and wide as the websites of England’s Daily Mail newspaper, Australia’s Daily Telegraph, TravelsToday.com and The Times of India.

Dylan Smith leaves behind his mother, Mary, father, Tim, younger brother, Jake and a host of devoted friends.

Upon learning of his death, one friend posted this tribute online: “Our hearts were broken again. Dylan Smith, a hero who saved many in (the) hurricane, is now an angel up in heaven.

“Dylan is a hero for two reasons. He put his own life at risk to save others, and because he wouldn’t accept any credit for doing it.

“We love you and miss you.”

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