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Two high school students are awarded Carnegie Medal for Sunset Cliffs rescue

Sunset Cliffs was the scene July 3, 2020, where a pair of visiting high school students rescued two people from the ocean.
Sunset Cliffs was the scene July 3, 2020, where two visiting high school students rescued an 18-year-old woman and an 11-year-old girl from the ocean.
(File)

Two high school students from Arizona who rescued two people who were swept into the ocean off Sunset Cliffs have been awarded the Carnegie Medal for civilian heroism.

Zachary Johnson Haugen and Jake Vageli Watson were recognized for the July 3, 2020, rescue of an 18-year-old woman and an 11-year-old girl, according to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.

Haugen, then 16 and a licensed lifeguard for the city of Phoenix, is credited with jumping into the water and guiding the pair to a low-lying cliff area where they could exit the water.

A wave then separated him from the others, leading him to call to his friend Watson, then 15. Watson swam to the victims, pushed the girl onto a ledge, then held onto the woman and kept her above the water’s surface until a lifeguard boat arrived, according to the commission.

At the time, Haugen and Watson were vacationing in San Diego for the Fourth of July weekend, according to an article in the Phoenix Independent.

The two are among 18 people awarded the 2022 Carnegie Medal, North America’s highest honor for civilian heroism.


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