News

Student surfer turns life saver

Senior Daniel Thompson, surfer from Titusville, Florida, poses with his surf board. Thompson resccued two men from drowning while studying abroad down under in Melbourne, Australia. Tanya Thompson // The Miami Hurricane

Senior Daniel Thompson, surfer from Titusville, Florida, poses with his surf board. Thompson resccued two men from drowning while studying abroad down under in Melbourne, Australia. Tanya Thompson // The Miami Hurricane

When University of Miami senior Daniel Thompson was a sophomore studying abroad in Australia, he was given the nickname “Danger” by friends.

It proved to be a fitting nickname as he braved rough waters during the trip and saved two surfers’ lives.

The event occurred in March 2008. Thompson, an avid surfer, was with his friend Tim Smith on a local beach in Melbourne, debating whether the waves were good enough to surf.

“It was kind of sloppy,” Thompson said. “You want it really quite perfect.”

Thompson noticed three men going into the ocean with one surfboard. He and Smith realized something was wrong when they saw just the surfboard and none of the men holding onto it.

The men then started waving their hands, and Thompson and Smith ran to the water.

“[We decided to] stick together and go for the furthest guy first,” Thompson said. “I grabbed the guy that was furthest out and I thought he was going to panic and pull me in the current, but he was actually pretty calm.”

The other two men were in a more dire situation.

“Tim swam for the other two. I dropped the other guy off at shore and then went after the two guys,” Thompson said. “By the time we reached the other two, one guy was pretty much dead, and the other guy was just holding on to his buddy.”

Thompson called for an emergency medical technician while Smith and two women on the beach attempted CPR to save the man in distress. It was to no avail.

The other two men would survive the experience, thanks in part to the quick thinking and composure of Thompson. This summer he was awarded a medal from the Australian Royal Humane Society for his efforts.

For the man known as “Danger,” this isn’t atypical behavior. The friends he met while in Australia considered him a friendly, adventurous person.

“Dan was an amazing friend. He was always willing to help,” said Christianne Tam, one of the friends Thompson met abroad in Singapore. “I don’t think I know anybody who doesn’t like him.”

Thompson doesn’t feel he has changed too much since the rescue of those surfers, which he admits is “not [his]favorite subject.”

He still loves to kayak, scuba dive and hike in addition to his passion for surfing.

“If anything it made me think differently about watching other people,” he said. “It made me more aware.”

As for Daniel “Danger” Thompson, his helping hand doesn’t necessarily make him a hero, at least not in his mind.

“It’s what surfers do in situations like that,” he said. “It’s what anyone would do.”

October 11, 2009

Reporters

Felipe A. Yanez

Contributing Writer


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

With the University of Miami season opener closing in, the next starting quarterback has yet to be n ...

The second fall scrimmage, closed to the media and public, is over. University of Miami coach Mark R ...

1. DOLPHINS: Fins any good? 'Dress rehearsal' may tell: Opening win, then lopsided loss. W ...

University of Miami linebacker Jamie Gordinier has had another unfortunate setback, effectively side ...

The calmest coach on the planet got mad Friday after football practice. University of Miami coach Ma ...

UM’s new chief academic officer holds some 40 patents, and in 2017 was inducted into the National Ac ...

University of Miami students and researchers are blogging during a month-long expedition in the Gulf ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

Through the U Dreamers Grant, DACA students find essential support as they pursue their college degr ...

UM students talk about their internships up north in a city that never sleeps. ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.