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Lifeguard Rescued Illegal Immigrant From Drainpipe, Wins National Valor Award

San Diego lifeguard Marc Brown.
San Diego lifeguard Marc Brown.

A city of San Diego lifeguard who rescued a suspected illegal immigrant from a Tijuana River Valley drainpipe during a flood received a national award for valor at today's City Council meeting.

Marc Brown, a member of the lifeguard's river rescue team, volunteered to be lowered by rope into the drainpipe near Monument Road and Hollister Street last Nov. 20 to pull out a man who was a dozen feet down.

As heavy rains increased, so did the water pouring into the pipe, according to the account of the rescue that was submitted with Brown's nomination. He was able to secure the man to the rope and pull him out just as the pipe filled with water.


The report credited Brown with displaying courage at "great risk,'' remaining calm and focused as conditions worsened.

The rescue "was truly something extraordinary,'' said Javier Mainar, chief of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, which operates the lifeguard service.

"I think it's something out of 'Indiana Jones,' where you see a chamber filling with water and at the very last moment, an escape is made and a life is saved,'' Mainar said. "It's exactly what Marc did in this case, as the water began to top (the pipe), he was able to extricate the individual who was trapped.''

The victim was taken to a hospital.

City Councilman David Alvarez, who represents the area, presented Brown with the valor award from the U.S. Lifesaving Association and introduced a proclamation declaring it "Marc Brown Day'' in the city of San Diego.


"His courageous and compassionate act has made him a true hero here among us in the community,'' Alvarez said.

The councilman said Brown's wife and brother are lifeguards, and his father was a retired lifeguard.