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CCU president commends students who offered help

March 3, 2014

Coastal Carolina University President David DeCenzo today recognized three students who helped a man whose boat had overturned near the jetties in Garden City Beach in late January.

Ricki Damico, Shane Wolchak and Johnny Quartuccio received certificates of recognition for offering aid to a 64-year-old man who had been in the frigid water for more than an hour before washing up on shore. “You really demonstrate what Coastal students are all about,” said DeCenzo. “You noticed something wrong, and you offered help. You took the initiative.”

The three students were fishing in an isolated area on the point in Garden City Beach when they noticed the waterlogged man crawling onto shore in a dazed condition. “We called 911 and got him out of his soaked clothes and gave him our jackets,” said Damico, a senior in marketing from Syracuse, N.Y.

Quartuccio, whose mother is a nurse, said he tried to think of what his mother would do for the man suffering from hypothermia and likely in shock. “We rubbed his back and his hands, trying to get him warm. It was very cold and very windy.” He is a junior in sports management from Avenel, N.J.

A second boater drowned in the incident, and his body washed ashore while the young men were helping the first man. “It was clear he couldn’t be helped,” said Wolchak, a junior in marine science from Stafford, Va.

Dean of Students Travis Overton said the students would be recognized at a Step Up gathering later in the year for “students who have done extraordinary things.” He commended them for being “a true reflection of Coastal spirit.” Step Up is a prosocial behavior and bystander intervention program that educates students to be proactive in helping others.