Josh Wills-King was body surfing at Big Corona Beach last weekend when he saw something that made his blood run cold.
"The waves (started) getting pretty big," he said. "The surf was high. And there was a guy flailing about, bobbing up and down. This guy did not look good, and I thought he had been bit by a shark."
Wills-King, 17, a Corona del Mar High School senior, said he was about 200 feet out and the man was another 25 feet past him.
"I was immediately fearful," he said. "This was the worst thing that happened in my life. But I also knew I had to help him."
Wills-King swam to the man and asked if he needed help.
"I kept saying, 'Sir, are you OK?'" Wills-King said. "He was completely unresponsive."
Wills-King quickly realized the man was not a shark victim but was injured with a gash on his head, and Wills-King grabbed him to hold him above the surf.