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Posted: October 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Local awarded Carnegie Medal for an act of heroism

Oxford teen saved man from drowning on vacation

Submitted Photo/

Hometown hero: Kyle Christopherson, second from right, prepares for gameday with his mother Kathy, girlfriend Elizabeth and father Keith.

Many 18-year-olds might hesitate before risking their lives to wade into a rip tide to help a stranger. But for Oxford resident Kyle Christopherson, it wasn’t even a question.

"I guess I really didn’t think about it too much," said Christopherson humbly, of saving the life of 47-year-old Daniel Broaddus last July.

Christopherson, an all-state varsity swimmer and now a 19-year-old junior at the University of Georgia, was vacationing with his family that fateful day at Daytona Beach Shores, Fla.

While at the pool of a condominium complex next to the beach, he noticed a man flailing in the ocean and yelling and a woman on shore yelling.

Broaddus had been wading in the waters when a powerful rip tide pulled him from the shore. As he struggled to make it back to land, he became exhausted. He was about 150 feet from the shore when Christopherson plunged into the choppy waters.

"The water was really strong that day," remembered the teen. He had been caught in a rip tide once before and had learned first-hand the unpredictable power of the ocean.

When he reached Broaddus, Christopherson felt the bottom beneath his feet and realized there was a submerged sandbar nearby. He pulled the Ohio man onto the sandbar so they could both rest for a moment, then took a hold of Broaddus, who was nearly unconscious, and headed back to shore.

It was slow going, said Christopherson, swimming with one arm in a diagonal direction to avoid the current. After about 10 minutes, they reached the shore, where there was a lifeguard waiting. Broaddus was given oxygen and recovered.

For his actions that day, Christopherson was awarded the Carnegie Medal – an honor bestowed by the Carnegie Hero Fund on "those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others."

The Newton County native was one of 25 civilians around the country and in Canada recently recognized for their heroism. Since the fund’s inception in 1904, a total of 9,224 people have been recognized, according to the commission.

"I am very proud," said his mother, Kathy Christopherson, who witnessed the incident along with her husband, Keith. "We were proud when it happened and scared as well."

"It’s just an honor," Kyle said. He and his family were thrilled and excited when they received the call that he had won the award, he said.

The Christophersons had applied for the award six months ago but hadn’t heard anything for a while until several weeks ago when the commission interviewed the family as well as other witnesses.

Along with the medal, Kyle, a pre-med biology major and 2006 graduate of George Walton Academy, was awarded $6,000 in scholarship money.

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