People Are Awesome: Pro Surfer Risks His Life to Rescue Woman Swept Into the Pacific
There's something to be said about serendipitously being in the right place at the right time. For pro surfer James Pribram, a canceled trip to Canada and a chance decision to go have lunch at his parent's Laguna Beach, California home resulted in his saving Irvine, California resident Maira Khan—who can't swim—from drowning in the exact spot where he learned to surf.
Khan was standing on a rocky outcropping at Pearl Street Beach, and had turned her back on the Pacific Ocean so a friend could snap her photo. That's when a monster six-foot wave crashed into her, sweeping her out to sea. Pribram, who happened to be sitting on his parent's balcony eating lunch, saw the whole thing happen. He yelled for his mom to call 911 and then raced down to the beach to save Khan, who was struggling to stay afloat.
Despite the sharp rocks and mussel shells covering the ocean floor, Pribram raced into the pounding surf. He was battered by the strong waves, but managed to tow a bloody and bruised Khan to safety. He turned her over to paramedics without introducing himself and headed home. An off-duty lifeguard told Khan her rescuer's name, but it wasn't until she got home that night and did a quick internet search that she really discovered who had saved her. The OC Register reports that Pribram
was dubbed The Eco Warrior by a journalist while protesting a pulp mill contaminating a river in Chile. In 2007, he won the John Kelly Environmental Award. He had filmed a segment for Fuel TV about pollution along the Great Lakes in Chicago. He was named Laguna Beach's 2011 Athlete of the Year for his work teaching school kids to care for their ocean.
Pribram is clearly a great guy, so it's no wonder he risked his life to save Khan, all without expecting any acknowledgment of his good deed. But, overcome with gratitude, Khan reached out to him and as you can see in the video above, the two have formed a friendship. Appropriately, Pribram's teaching her how to swim.
photo via O'Neill Blog