A San Francisco high school student who saved two distressed swimmers at Ocean Beach while surfing last week was recognized by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the city's fire chief Tuesday afternoon.
At the board's meeting at City Hall, 17-year-old Tony Barbero was given a certificate of honor for his heroics in saving a man and a teenage boy who were swept out to sea while wading at the beach on April 9.
Supervisor Katy Tang, whose district includes the western edge of the city, honored Tony, a junior at San Francisco's St. Ignatius College Preparatory high school, for jumping into action while surfing at the beach near Lincoln Way just before 4 p.m.
Tang said he embodies the word “hero” and if it wasn't for him “taking the onus upon yourself,” the incident would have been even more tragic.
One of the swimmers, 14-year-old Marcos Cornejo, remains missing and the search for him was suspended the day after the incident.
Tony helped save Marcos' father and cousin when he saw them in the water after they had been pulled in by a rip current.
He gave the boy his surfboard and went over to the man and carried him to shore.
Once on shore, paramedics performed CPR and transported the man to a hospital, where he remains in critical condition today.
The boy was able to get to shore using Tony's surfboard and was not seriously injured.
Tony's father is San Francisco fire Capt. Joe Barbero, who has been with the department for more than 27 years.
Chief Joanne Hayes-White hailed Tony's actions and encouraged him to consider a career in emergency response.
“I wanted to personally tell you that you did a phenomenal job,” the chief said. “I'm blown away.”
Hayes-White gave him a blue San Francisco Fire Department T-shirt as a token of appreciation.
Tony told the board he appreciated the support from his friends, family, school and surf community and beyond.
He called his rescue “happy but also sad” with Marcos still not found.
A fellow surfer also commended Tony at Tuesday's ceremony and called him an “amazing young man” before giving him a small surfboard to enjoy while catching waves.
Tang announced a memorial fund established to support Marcos' family.
A friend had set up the GoFundMe site with a goal of raising money for Marcos, who leaves behind an older brother, younger sister, his mother Maritza and his critically injured father Abel.
According to the site's organizer, the father remains in a coma at University of California at San Francisco Medical Center in the intensive care unit.
The organizer posted that doctors have found some brain activity and he has not been declared brain dead.
Nearly $900 was raised on the site, which is no longer taking contributions because the mother is in the process of establishing another account where the money raised will be transferred, according to a post on the site late Tuesday.
More information about the online fundraiser can be found at http://www.gofundme.com/89vp68.