Six members of the American Youth Sailing Force, the San Francisco entry into the Red Bull Youth America's Cup, are to be honored by US Sailing for risking their lives to save another.On June 21, the team was attending a fundraising event at Golden Gate Yacht Club to support their efforts to compete in this summer's Youth Cup when a minivan drove off Marina Green and into the Bay at an estimated 20 mph. Force team members leapt into action, running to the chase boat they had arrived in for the fundraiser and attempted to rescue a woman whose car was then submerging when they reached it.
“The van was going down at the nose, and the roof was just submerging when we got to it,” said Ian Andrewes, the team's captain (Seattle, WA), at the time. “Before we even slowed down, three of our guys were in the water with tools. They were able to get on the car and start smashing the window, but unfortunately they couldn’t get the window to break completely. They were pounding the windows as hard as they could.”
According to the US Sailing report, team members David Liebenberg (21, Livermore, Calif.), Tommy Pastalka (22, Belvedere, Calif.), and Evan Sjostedt (20, Long Beach, Calif.) jumped off the boat, swam to the van, and attempted to break its rear window and open a door. Mikey Radziekowski (21, Berkeley, Calif.) served as spotter on the Protector and team videographer Nick Andrewes (27, Seattle, Wash.) served as deckhand, while Andrewes steered their chase boat. Pastalka was injured in the rescue attempt, cutting his hands on the broken windshield glass as he tried to pry it open. Despite their valiant efforts, the driver succumbed to the accident and perished.
The Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal is awarded by US Sailing’s Safety-at-Sea Committee to any person who rescues or endeavors to rescue any other person from drowning, shipwreck, or other perils at sea within the territorial waters of the United States, or as part of a sailboat race or voyage that originated or stopped in the U.S.