Coast Guard awards certificate of valor to Cornelius, N.C. resident

5th Coast Guard District NewsPORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard and Town of Cornelius Board of Commissioners recognized a Cornelius, N.C., resident with a certificate of valor during a ceremony held at the Cornelius Town Hall Monday.

Mark McDowell was awarded the certificate for his efforts in saving a drowning swimmer’s life July 3, 2011.

Capt. Anthony Popiel, commander of Coast Guard Sector North Carolina, awarded McDowell with a certificate of valor signed by the commandant of Coast Guard for his actions.

On hand for the award presentation were members of the local Coast Guard Auxiliary and Cub Scout Pack 72, which McDowell leads.

While boating on Lake Norman, N.C., McDowell took prompt action when a guest of his suffered a heart attack while swimming nearby. McDowell swam approximately 40 feet to the 200-pound victim and retrieved him from beneath the surface with considerable difficulty. With the help of two other good Samaritans, McDowell was able to swim the victim back to his boat and quickly get him to a nearby dock for further care.

“I’m so grateful that this incident didn’t end in tragedy,” said McDowell. “It’s easy for even experienced boaters to become complacent about safety, and I hope my story will help others to be more vigilant – disaster can strike quickly on the water.”

The certificate of valor is awarded to persons demonstrated great courage in a lifesaving scenario.

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