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Teen commended for saving woman from drowning

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Teen commended for saving Scotts Valley woman from drowning




Bennett Bynes was commended this week for rescuing Jessica Pierre from the ocean off Its Beach in September. (Stephen Baxter -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)

By Stephen Baxter, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Posted: 10/16/15, 6:58 PM PDT | Updated: 2 weeks ago



SANTA CRUZ >> Bennett Bynes was bodysurfing at Its Beach in Santa Cruz on Sept. 4 when he noticed a woman struggling in the waves.

The woman, 23-year-old Jessica Pierre of Scotts Valley, had been swimming with a friend and ingested water. She was losing consciousness and waves were pushing her into rocks when Bynes noticed her.

“I told my friend, ‘I’m going to die. I’m not going to make it,” Pierre later said.

Bynes, 16, had been a junior lifeguard since age 6. He swam to Pierre and brought her to shore, making sure her neck was stable. Bynes then got someone on the beach to call 911 and stayed with her until Santa Cruz firefighters and paramedics arrived.

At Tuesday’s Santa Cruz City Council meeting, Santa Cruz firefighters rewarded Bynes with a Fire Chief’s Commendation for his actions.

“Without his extraordinary efforts, she likely would have died,” Santa Cruz Fire Battalion Chief Jason Hajduk said.

“It’s pretty impressive at that age, or at any age.”

In front of the City Council and a few dozen people in the council chamber, Pierre tearfully thanked Bynes for rescuing her.

“You have no idea what you did for me,” Pierre said.

“They said I ingested 6 liters of water. You’re a real hero. Thank you.”

Bynes, a junior at Ponderosa High School and Career Training Center in Ben Lomond, is the son of Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputy Wendy Raman and Santa Cruz firefighter Ben Bynes.

Bennett Bynes said his lifesaving training in junior lifeguards helped keep him calm under pressure.

“Junior lifeguards really helped me out,” he said.

“I’m definitely glad things turned out the way they did.”

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