He was dubbed The Eco Warrior by a journalist while protesting a pulp mill contaminating a river in Chile. In 2007, he won the John Kelly Environmental Award. He had filmed a segment for Fuel TV about pollution along the Great Lakes in Chicago. He was named Laguna Beach's 2011 Athlete of the Year for his work teaching school kids to care for their ocean.
Then a series of events that changed the plans of both victim and hero put him at the right place and time to use his mastery of the waves to save a drowning woman. The full report is here.