Richard Abrams, now retired and living near Playa Dominical, Costa Rica, worked as a lifeguard in Imperial Beach for 18 years.
He was hired and trained by Dempsey Holder and mentored by Tom Keck. Late in February, Richard rescued local Tico surfer Oscar Manuel, 19, in what he described as the “heaviest rescue of my life” in overhead surf at Playa Dominical.
When he noticed Oscar’s board floating strangely, his lifeguard sense kicked in. After paddling to the board, he pulled up the cord with Oscar still attached and began mouth to mouth in the water.
Not having fins or a can made for a difficult rescue. Another former lifeguard, Randy Miller, joined in. They lost Oscar four or five times due to the pounding waves, but managed to find him again each time, finally getting him to the beach after about 10 minutes of frantic effort.
They loaded Oscar and his dad into the back of a pickup and drove like hell to the hospital in Quepos with Richard continuing CPR.
Oscar started breathing again a few kilometers down the road. He’s recovered nicely and is back out surfing. “El Pirata,” as Richard is known by the Dominical surfing community, is now a local hero.
More than 50 people, surfers included, drowned at Playa Dominical last year. Richard is anxiously seeking help to re-establish, equip, train and fund a permanent lifeguard service there. If you can help, he can be reached at (tel) 011 506 8331 7707.
Article and Picutres by Jeff Knox