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Angeles County | Community News File / Cerritos

Teenagers Who Saved Friend From Pounding Waves Are Honored

September 04, 1998

Two teenage boys were recognized as heroes for saving their best friend after an accident at Bolsa Chica State Beach left 16-year-old Chad Hendrickson floating in choppy waters without control over his limbs.

David Medlen and Christopher Peugh, both 16, were honored Thursday at a Cerritos restaurant. The teenagers were nominated for the award by Chad's parents, who were present at the ceremony.

On June 30, the youths--members of Gahr High School's water polo team--went back into the water one last time when disaster befell the onetime most valuable player of the junior varsity team.

When Chad dove into the water, his neck snapped back, possibly after striking a sand bar or being hit by a powerful wave.

David swam after Chad, who was floating face-down.

"He just had this look of terror in his eyes," said David.

David tried to pull Chad to shore, but strong waves kept knocking him over.

Rushing to help, Christopher assisted David in bringing Chad to shore, where lifeguards rushed to his aid, said Jeanne Turner, spokeswoman for the restaurant, Mimi's Cafe.

After spending weeks in intensive care at UC Irvine Medical Center, Chad was transferred to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center for rehabilitation.

He was released Aug. 25. Although Chad is paralyzed from the neck down, he has regained some feeling in his fingers, said Turner.

David and Christopher were rewarded for their lifesaving efforts with plaques and a permanent place in Mimi's Cafe's "All-American Hall of Heroes."

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