Former CHNS employee awarded US Coast Guard Silver Lifesaving Medal for rescuing visitors from rip current

Silver Lifesaving Medal recipient Valerie Streiff stands next to U.S. Coast Guard NC Sector Commander Matt Baer.

Former Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS) ranger Valerie Streiff received the U.S. Coast Guard Lifesaving Silver Medal this morning for her efforts to save visitors from a rip current on October 18, 2020 .

At the Lifesaving Silver Medal presentation event, held at U.S. Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet, the following citation was read:

For heroic action on the afternoon of October 18, 2020, when a father and ten-year-old son were swept out to sea by a rip current while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean near Oregon Inlet, North Carolina.

As Ms Streiff patrolled the beach in her National Park Service vehicle, she heard the frantic screams of father and son. Seeing them being swept out to sea by the rip current, she stopped the vehicle and immediately put on a life jacket and entered the dangerous sea, taking a floating cushion with her. After swimming about 60 meters to reach the tired father and son, she gave them the floating cushion to relieve them of the constant struggle to keep their heads above water. Assessing the situation and seeing no other help in sight, she used her previous experience as a lifeguard to battle the dangerous conditions to return to shore while pulling the exhausted pair behind her. After swimming for nearly 30 minutes, she reached the beach safely with the survivors in stable condition.

Without his immediate and heroic efforts and his own life in danger for two complete strangers, their lives would have been lost. Her selfless actions and valiant service are a credit to herself and are in keeping with the highest traditions of humanitarian service.

Prior to the presentation of the Silver Lifesaving Medal, William Butler, the father whose life was saved by Ranger Streiff, expressed his gratitude for his heroic actions on the afternoon of October 18, 2020. National Park Service Law Enforcement Ranger Valerie Streiff, US Coast Guard NC Area Commander Matt Baer and Eastern North Carolina National Parks Superintendent David Hallac also spoke at the event.


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